Courtroom discourse and the gendered construction of professional identity

Bryna Bogoch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


In addition to providing an arena for dispute resolution, the courtroom serves lawyers and judges as an important site for the construction and maintenance of their professional identity. It is mainly through the strategic use of language within the constraints on courtroom discourse that this process takes place. Within the framework of feminist theories of language as constituent of social identity, this paper analyzes courtroom interaction to determine how gender affects the construction of the professional identity of lawyers and judges in Israeli district courts. Quantitative analyses of terms of address, intrusions, judges' takeover of examinations, challenging comments, and the forms and use of directives indicated that women judges and women lawyers were accorded less deference than men, and that the professional competence of women lawyers was challenged and undermined. The qualitative analysis of the off-the-record comments by judges, lawyers, and witnesses to lawyers revealed that all participants questioned the professional performance of women lawyers in gender-stereotypic ways. The devaluation of women professionals and the gendered interpretations of their behavior enacted through the discourse in the courtroom may have implications for the outcomes of trials.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)329-375
Number of pages47
JournalLaw and Social Inquiry
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1999


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