Background & History

The New York State Judicial Committee on Women in the Courts was first appointed in 1986 in response to a report by the New York Task Force on Women in the Courts. Its immediate assignment was implementing the Task Force's many detailed recommendations, but, from the beginning, the Committee was also asked to address the visionary goal of eradicating all vestiges of gender bias in New York Courts.

Under the leadership of its current chair, Hon. Betty Weinberg Ellerin, and her predecessor, Hon. Kathryn McDonald, the Committee has evolved into a broad-based group composed of sitting judges, court officials, and practicing lawyers. With the support of New York State’s Chief Judge, the Committee continues to tackle the challenge of assuring equality and fair treatment for all women whose lives bring them into New York State’s courts.

Since 1986, the New York State Judicial Committee on Women in the Courts has:

Organized numerous educational programs for New York judges.

Helped train nonjudicial court personnel.

Planned conferences and forums on a wide range of topics.

Published pamphlets and books.

Issued periodic reports.

Conducted surveys and collected data.

Advocated for change in court practices and operations that adversely effect litigants.

Responded to complaints from the public and from advocacy groups.

Helped write and implement policies that apply to court employees.

Created and nurtured a network of local gender fairness and gender bias committees.


"Gender bias against women litigants, attorneys and court employees is a pervasive problem with grave consequences."

New York Task Force on Women in the Courts, 1986