For the first time in history women have been recommended for more judicial posts than men, according to statistics released by the Judicial Appointments Commission today.

Across 17 selection exercises for court and tribunal posts completed between April and September this year, 280 (52%) of those recommended for appointment were women, compared with 233 men (30 recommendees declined to identify their gender).

Overall, there were 3,529 applications for 543 posts. Of those who applied, 54% were women and 14% were from black and minority ethnic (BME) backgrounds. Of those who went on to be recommended for appointment, 10% were from a BME group.

Commission chair Christopher Stephens said: ‘The statistics continue to highlight the success of women, with the proportion recommended in individual selection exercises often being higher than the percentage of applicants or shortlisted candidates who were women.’

While there were some successes for BME candidates, Stephens said the overall performance was ‘disappointing’.

‘In a number of cases this is due to BME candidates having fewer years’ post-qualification experience compared with other groups,’ he suggested, and said further work is being done to look into the issue.

Stephens added: ‘All candidates are encouraged to look at the skills and experience required for judicial posts. Selections are made on merit.’

The selection for fee-paid employment judges, the only exercise that required legal qualifications and experience, attracted 723 applicants for just 58 positions.

Women accounted for 43% of those recommended, while BME candidates accounted for 3%. Half of those recommended where solicitors.

In other exercises, for which legal experience was not required, women accounted for 72% of those recommended for the Disability Member Social Entitlement Chamber; 63% for Specialist Member, Health, Education and Social Care Chamber and 44% for the Medical Member Social Entitlement Chamber.