Monica Ghosh Driggers, J.D.

Director, Studies of Gender Policy in U.S. Jurisprudence

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Monica Ghosh Driggers is an attorney and researcher and has focused the last seven years of her career on reforming the way that justice is delivered and administered in the United States. Although the court system is an integral part of American life, very few people study how the courts operate and what can be done to improve court operations. Even fewer people focus on how judges and other justice practitioners affect the lives of women, girls, and children.

The pressing need for court and criminal justice reform must be supported by strong research that not only gathers basic statistical information, but also evaluates the efficacy of new practices. Monica’s projects start with the examination of a particular justice-related problem such as how the genders are treated both similarly and differently in court proceedings. She then documents and researches the problem and, based on analysis of the results, proposes new policies that will combat the problem and instill meaningful reform.

Prior to becoming director of Studies of Gender Policy in U.S. Jurisprudence, she served as director of the Gender and Justice Project. Previously, Monica most served as the Policy Director for the Women’s Rights Network (WRN) here at the Wellesley Centers for Women. She co-authored WRN’s influential report, Battered Mothers Speak Out: A Human Rights Report on Child Custody and Domestic Violence in the Massachusetts State Courts, and examined how court personnel understand and treat women who suffer post-separation violence and seek custody of their children.

Collectively, her work aims to examine the status of gender bias in justice systems throughout the United States. Awareness of how gender plays a role in justice has gained attention in recent years, spurring several state court systems to study the role of gender in judicial proceedings and court case outcomes. Unfortunately, little has been done to examine whether the state courts’ anti-gender bias initiatives have resulted in improved conditions for female court users and staff. Monica hopes that her research on this topic will re-invigorate the movement to abolish gender bias from court proceedings and criminal justice practices.

Prior to joining WRN, Monica served as a Senior Policy Analyst for the Supreme Court of California, Administrative Office of the Courts, specializing in alternative and therapeutic courts such as drug courts, domestic violence courts, and youth courts. She spent four years successfully developing policy strategies to help the courts accomplish their reform-oriented initiatives, ending in a large statewide funding program for alternative courts, an evaluation project for these courts, and a Supreme Court committee dedicated to supporting and creating courts that value collaboration and community involvement.

In doing her work, Monica has had the good fortune to collaborate with a wide variety of organizations such as justice research institutes, academic institutions, non-profit legal service providers, and advocacy groups. She holds a Juris Doctorate from the University of Denver, and an A.B. in Legal History from the University of Chicago.

Newest Work:

What do Women of Color and Immigrant Women Experience During Court Proceedings? Uncovering the Causes and Effects of Discrimination-Based Human Rights Violations.

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