Reviewing the work of three political scientists who studied women judges provides an opportunity for rethinking the concept of gender and how to do gender-based research. Scholarship on women judges sometimes veers toward an essentialist view of women and gender differences, despite empirical evidence to the contrary. A close reading of this early work reveals some essentialist missteps but also offers strong examples of research across many methodologies that should serve as exemplars for current research across disciplines. If we move beyond the question of whether women decide cases differently from men, using sex as a variable, like other gender-based research strategies, can provide useful feminist insights.
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© 2012 Taylor and Francis.