March is National Women’s History Month, an ideal time to look at the history of women in the Pennsylvania judiciary as well as those women currently serving.
It has been 87 years since the first woman, Sara M. Soffel (Allegheny), served as a judge in Pennsylvania.
Today, 29 percent of Pennsylvania’s active judges are women who serve the courts at the appellate, trial and minor court levels. For the first time ever, three women sit on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.
Pennsylvania is also home to Juanita Kidd Stout (Philadelphia), the first African-American woman elected to a court of record in the United States, the first to sit on the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas and the first appointed to any state Supreme Court.
The majority of the judges now serving on the Superior Court (75 percent) and Commonwealth Court (57 percent) are women, and the president judges of both of those courts are women.
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