Manterrupting. It seems like all women have to deal with it, even those in the Supreme Court. That’s right, a new study shows that sexism still takes place in the hallowed halls of justice. Yup, even the highest tier of the judicial system still has a way to go to achieve equality.
Researchers at Northwestern University discovered that the rate male justices interrupt female justices has increased with the number of women on the Supreme Court.
Yup, it’s proven that manterrupting is a problem for the Supreme Court.
Here’s how they found out: Northwestern Pritzker School of Law professor Tonja Jacobi and J.D. candidate Dylan Shweers studied three sets of Supreme Court oral arguments. One from 1990, one from 2002, and one from 2015. In each of these years, the number of seats occupied by women increased: one, two, and three respectively. Over time, the rate that women were interrupted by men also increased.
Luckily, female Supreme Court justices found a way to fight back against manterrupting.
Women newly appointed to the Supreme Court tended to say things like “may I ask” or “excuse me” when they were first appointed to the bench. These turns of phrase allowed them to get interrupted more easily. But over time, they realized they should do away with the formalities and cut right to the chase.
“Three of the four women who have served on the court show clear downward trends in their use of polite phrasing,” the researchers wrote on the SCOTUS blog, while “very few” of the male justices showed the same trajectory.
However, despite learning the right rhetoric for the job, women are still more delicate on the bench. “After more than 30 years on the Court, Ginsburg still uses polite language more than either Kennedy or Alito did immediately upon joining the court,” the researchers added.
Compelling and polite? We’d expect nothing less from RBG.