Of sticky floors and glass ceilings: Why is it so difficult to significantly increase the number of women judges at the European Court of Human Rights?

The battle for gender balance in international courts is being fought. Increasing data and knowledge produced on the subject matter helps publicize the issue; organizations launch campaigns, institutions start to pay attention to the issue, and important and vibrant scholarship discusses and refines the many available normative frameworks for strengthening objectives of gender balance in ICs. Nonetheless, the battle is far from won. The overall percentages of women judges sitting in ICs are a far cry from any notion of parity or even gender balance; none of them is currently close to an equal share of posts between men and women. As it focuses on the example of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) where a gender balance rule has existed since 2004, this paper documents, that the figures are stalling. It then traces them back to the States’ practice of either paying only lip service or acting in bad faith with respect to the gender balance objective, thus identifying this factor as a structural obstacle that has turned the objective of gender balance into a sticky floor instead of enabling it to shatter glass ceilings.