This article presents a comparative study of the 20th-century exclusion of women from participation on juries. It explains that until the 1970s, and in some cases even the 1990s, substantial formal limitations on jury franchise were placed on women in Ireland, Canada, the United States, New Zealand and Australia. This situation existed notwithstanding women’s equality of political franchise through the vote and despite judicial references to the centrality of the jury. While in England and Wales women were not treated differently from men in formal terms after the 1920s, property qualifications denied them substantive equality and informal limitations excluded women disproportionately. We highlight some distinctive features of the English experience as compared and contrasted with the laws and policies on jury composition operating in other jurisdictions, and ask whether the legacies left by the traditionally unrepresentative jury and the battles for gender equality offer lessons relevant to understanding jury trials in contemporary times.
- England and Wales
- North America