Erika Rackley’s research focuses broadly on three key areas under the broad heading of ‘gender and law’: (1) judicial diversity, the nature of judging, gender equality in the legal profession, (2) the legal regulation of pornography and image-based sexual abuse and (3) feminist legal history.
Erika Rackley has written widely on judicial diversity and judging, particularly in relation to the representation of women and the importance of difference-based arguments in the context of judicial diversity. Her book, Women, Judging and the Judiciary: From Difference to Diversity, won the Society of Legal Scholars Birks Prize for Outstanding Legal Scholarship in 2013. Erika regularly comments in the media on matters relating to judicial diversity and the impact of gender on judicial decision-making, including in The Guardian, and on the BBC’s Woman's Hour and Law in Action. She is currently working on number of sole and collaborative projects in this area including an empirical project examining the changing position of women in law over the last twenty years, an edited collection (with Graham Gee) to mark the 10th anniversary of the Judicial Appointments Commission and, with Rosemary Hunter, a quantitative and qualitative project considering the jurisprudence of Lady Hale.
Erika's research (with Clare McGlynn) on the cultural harm certain forms of pornography has shaped and informed law reform in England & Wales and Scotland, specifically that relating to the criminalisation of pornographic images of rape (see research briefing here). In particular, they worked closely with Rape Crisis (South London) and the End Violence Against Women (EVAW) on their campaign to ‘ban rape porn’, which led to legislative changes criminalising the possession of such images in the Criminal Justice and Courts Act 2015. The impact of Erika’s research in this field was recognised as world-leading (4*) in the 2014 Research Excellence Framework (read the full case study here).
More recently, she has been working with McGlynn on legal responses to image-based sexual abuse, that is the creation and/or distribution of private sexual images without consent, including so-called ‘revenge porn’. They argue that both the criminal and civil law should be deployed to combat this phenomenon which recognise women’s rights to privacy, dignity and sexual expression (see research briefing here). In 2017, she will begin work on an international project, funded by the Australian Research Council, on the legal implications of so-called ‘revenge pornography’ with McGlynn and colleagues from Australia and New Zealand.
Finally, Erika is leading, with Rosemary Auchmuty, the ‘Women’s Legal Landmarks Project’. This brings together over 100 feminist lawyers, historians, activists and legal practitioners to write about the key legal events in the UK and Ireland in women’s fight for justice and equality. An edited collection of the landmarks will be published by Hart Publishing in 2018. You can listen to a podcast about the Project here.
Selected research grants/prizes
- 2016: Australian Research Council: The legal implications of 'revenge pornography' (Co-I)
- 2014: Philip Leverhulme Trust: Philip Leverhulme Prize (£100,000) (PI).
- 2014: British Academy Mid-Career Fellowship. Project title: ‘Women in Law: Beacons and Benchmarks’ (£115,500) (PI).
- 2009: AHRC Research Leave Scheme. Project title: ‘From Difference to Diversity: An Imaginative Critique of the Judicial Appointments Process in England and Wales’ (£16,689) (PI).
- 2008: ESRC Grant. Project title: The Feminist Judgments Project (£70, 202) (Co-I)