Gender Diversity In International Arbitration - the Elusive 50/50 Balance


Dispute Resolution Data began collecting data on gender in 2015 around the same time as the Equal Representation in Arbitration Pledge, which now has over 2,500 signatories.

The ERA Pledge is a call for the international arbitration community to commit to increase, on an equal opportunity basis, the number of women appointed as arbitrators.  Many of the signatories are filing cases with the 17 institutions that contribute data to DRD.   What the data reveals is that female arbitrators are selected to serve on arbitration panels at a rate that is dramatically lower than that of their male counterparts.

DRD examined the 10 most represented case types over 1,200 active cases as of December 2017, to see what was the arbitrators’ gender in reported cases.  Findings were eye-opening with eight out of 10 case types showing approximately 70% or more male arbitrators. The most diverse of all caseloads was Employment with an impressive split of 50/50 of male and female arbitrators.  The second most diverse case type was Technology with 31% female arbitrators.  On the other end of the spectrum, Financial Services and Banking were the least diverse, only 13% female followed by construction with 14% female arbitrators.   

What can we learn about how employment and technology arbitrators are chosen and how might we imitate their best practices across other caseloads?     

As the DRD database grows we will be able to illuminate the gender issue further and track the progress which must come if arbitration panels are to be reflective of the industries they serve.  ~ Debi Slate