Paola Di Nicola
The daughter of a well-known anti-terrorism magistrate, Paola Di Nicola grew up surrounded by her father’s colleagues and stories of their trials in court. Having her father as a model, it pushed her to follow his footsteps and triggered her to become a judge herself, not imagining that her experience would be so much different just because she is a woman.
Currently Paola Di Nicola works at the Criminal Court in Rome. She has acquired a vast experience as a magistrate in the field of civil, criminal and labor law, and as a judge in civil matters, real estate and criminal executions. She has been responsible for training of the judiciary in Lazio. Between 2009 and 2010, Di Nicola chaired the Board, specially set up at the Court of Naples to deal with the waste emergency in Campania. Last and not least, she has published articles in several judicial magazines about crimes against women, and immigration.
Ms Paola Di Nicola, as a woman judge, decided to challenge traditional gender roles and gender stereotypes, and after 20 years in her profession, she wrote about women’s experience within the judiciary.
Decided to challenge traditional gender roles and gender stereotypes within the judiciary
In one interview that she gave to Rosa Brignone, Founder of a civil society initiative “Time for Equality”, she recounts her first experience with gender stereotypes - “There are so many examples: they began on the first day, at my first court hearing, and have continued ever since. The main episode is undoubtedly my first day as a member of the judiciary when, together with a male colleague who had passed the exam with me, I met the head of my new judicial office. He asked my colleague about his professional skills, his interests and his articles, while I was asked whether I was married and whether I intended to have children. My experiences, my motivation, my interest in working in labour law or criminal law were ignored.”
Having encountered numerous experiences similar to this one, she has decided to write them down. This is how the book - halfway between biography and collective history of women in the judiciary - “La giudice. Una donna in magistratura” - took shape.
In her book, Paola Di Nicola challenges the internalization of gender stereotypes, describes their impact on the personal/professional level on the one hand and the social/institutional level on the other hand; the glass ceiling in the courthouses; women in the judiciary not only as judges but also as victims (trials dealing with sexual violence cases); and the use of gender in language, both in the legal and in everyday language.
About the book, she recounts herself “My inspiration comes from the women victims of daily abuse that I see, as a judge, in the courtrooms: women who are humiliated, ill-treated, and reduced to silence. My drive is the urgent need to change the gender paradigm, so that our daughters can live in a world in which their gender is not a curse but a source of richness they can be proud of and fully enjoy. They would be living in a world where women and men recognise the mutual enrichment stemming from their differences.”
Paola Di Nicola has long been recognised for her efforts to challenge traditional gender roles and gender stereotypes. She has achieved visibility and recognition, and as a result, her nomination has been endorsed by 18 organisations and 185 individuals, a record for the three-years long “Women and Men Inspiring Europe” project.