Women and Judiciary in Italy – an example of a “glass ceiling” that proves hard to break

Women and Judiciary in Italy – an example of a “glass ceiling” that proves hard to break

 by Carla Fronteddu

published on The BIG I.D.E.A>

Time for Equality, in line with its objective of raising awareness and sharing of knowledge and resources, is going to publish thematic files as a follow up to the event organized on 30 May 2013 in Luxembourg with the Italian judge Paola Di Nicola.
Paola Di Nicola is the author of La giudice, a book in which she recounts her experience in the past twenty years as a female judge and calls attention to gender conditions in the Italian judiciary. Time for Equality’s thematic files about La giudice offers an in depth analysis of the most important issues discussed in the book, from the presence of women in judiciary to sexism in language (the language of the legal codes as well as the language of everyday life). Even if the book refers to Italy, the debate held in Luxemburg revealed that gender issues are not only an Italian matter; the prejudices against women and the inability to recognize the richness of differences go beyond boundaries and concern all professions.
In this article I will expose one of the main topics explored in Di Nicola’s book and further deepened in Time for Equality’s collection of files: the presence of women in Italian Judiciary.
In Italy women entered the judiciary for the first time in 1963, when law n. 66 allowed “l’ammissione della donna ai pubblici uffici ed alle professioni”[1] (the admission of women into public offices and professions).
The first entrance exam into the position open to female candidates was held in May of the same year and 8 women of 187 candidates were deemed suitable. Before that date, article 7 of law 1176, effective from 1919 (abrogated in 1963), permitted women to hold public office positions – with the exception of the judiciary.
In 1947 the Assemblea Costituente (“The Italian Constituent Assembly,” a parliamentary chamber which existed in Italy from 25 June 1946 until 31 January 1948, with the task of writing a constitution for the Italian Republic) needed to decide whether to recognize the women’s right to become and work as a judges or not. In the end, the Assembly didn’t explicitly express an opinion about this issue, opting to give a general statement instead: art. 51 states that “tutti i cittadini dell’uno e dell’altro sesso possono accedere agli uffici pubblici in condizioni di eguaglianza, secondo i requisiti stabiliti dalla legge” (all citizens of both sexes can enter all public offices, in conditions of equality and under the requirements expressed by the law).
Between 1947 and 1963 no women entered the judiciary, because only in February 1963 did the Italian Parliament pass a law (law n. 66) allowing women to hold judiciary positions.
Since the first entrance exam, the percentage of female candidates has been steadily increasing, reaching 58% in 2009. Currently 4,006 of 8,678 judges are women, a percentage of 46%, and perhaps they will even become the majority someday.
The Centre for Equal Treatment (Pari Opportunità) of Consiglio Superiore della Magistratura, however, compares the presence of women in judiciary to a pyramid, with a high number of female judges at the bottom and very few at the top.
Like in many other workplaces, especially ones with access to position of power, at a certain moment of their career women encounter the so called “glass ceiling”; consider that in the Consiglio Superiore della Magistratura (CSM) only 2 of 27 members are women. It is time that we give full attention to this concern and conduct an appropriate investigation to understand the obstacles that prevent women from reaching top level positions, and provide some proposals to overcome this form of discrimination in judiciary.

[1]Legge n. 66 del 9 febbraio 1963, Ammissione della donna ai pubblici uffici ed alle professioni.
See more at: http://www.diversityjobs.co.uk/thebigidea/index.php/women-and-judiciary-in-italy-an-example-of-a-glass-ceiling-that-is-hard-to-break/#!

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