UK Supreme Court starts work…
Louise Livesey // 1 October 2009
And guess how many are women? Yep tokenism is alive and well – the only woman on the panel of twelve judges (although one seat is unfilled) is Brenda Hale (Baroness Hale of Richmond) who was also the first (and so far only Law Lord) to be appointed. She’s had an illustrious career but comes firmly from an establishment, middle-class background (parents headteachers, educated at Girton, academic career…).
And guess how many aren’t white? Sadly not even tokenism appears to stretch to the inclusion of a black, asian or other minority ethnic judge (as far as I can tell checking biogs and pictures online).
As ever, if you drill down to who is doing the administrative work there is more diversity with the senior executive team having seven women (out of ten posts) one of whom (Head of Judicial Support) is from a minority ethnic group.
So why should we care? Well because the Supreme Court is the final Court of Appeal in the UK now and will make decisions on unresolved or tricky/arguable points of law (like when is consent actually consent, for example). A Supreme Court so hopelessly unrepresentative that you have to question whether thirty years of equality legislation has actually had any impact at all. In other words – rich white men continue to make decisions whilst women and minority ethnic workers are exiled into lower status, lower paid, less powerful jobs (I’d put money on the fact that their cleaners at the swanky, newly refurbed Middlesex Guidhall are generally women and generally from minority ethnic groups!).