Will New Orleans Women Judges Be Discriminated Against Because of Sex?

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Gender bias still exists! Three female district court judges – Rachel Johnson, Karen Herman and Nakisha Ervin-Knott – have already announced they will be running this fall to fill three open seats at Louisiana’s Fourth Circuit Court of Appeal which is based in New Orleans. A new report released by The Barbara Lee Foundation, an organization that advocates for female representation in politics, indicates that female candidates are still judged on qualifications, likability and appearance even when they aren’t running against men.

Voters assume that men are qualified but women have to prove themselves as likable and qualified, according to the new study. Whether a female candidate is running against another woman or a male, this double standard appears to be alive and well and fully ingrained in our political system.  Female candidates continue to face additional scrutiny if their appearance does not meet the highest standards of beauty.

Women candidates have passed one threshold – they are no longer consider a novelty. That’s good news especially because the majority of New Orleans elected judges are females. Women candidates are more often supported by people of color, Democrats and Gen Xers. The Barbara Lee Foundation survey was taken during October and November, 2021 and included 2,000 people who indicated they would be likely voters during the November 2022 mid-term elections. Minority voters including Blacks, Latinos, Asian-Americans and Indigenous voters were over-sampled to ensure a balanced mix of responses. Based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the Barbara Lee Foundation conducts nonpartisan research on women in politics.

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