Rebecca Gill, Ph.D.

University of Nevada, Las Vegas

Phone: 7028951199

City: Las Vegas, Nevada - 89154

Country: United States

About Me:

Rebecca Gill is the Director of the Women’s Research Institute of Nevada and Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Nevada Las Vegas. Dr. Gill’s recent research focuses on gender, politics, and legal institutions. She is the recipient of a multi-year National Science Foundation grant to study gender and race bias in performance evaluations of state judges. Dr. Gill’s research interests also include state law, state judicial selection, Nevada politics, comparative courts. In addition to this, she is heavily involved in issues of gender and intersectional equity in academia. She has spoken out about her #metooPhD moment, particularly as it relates to the intersection of harassment and the imposter experience. In recognition of these efforts, she was a co-awardee (with Valerie Sulfaro) of the 2018 Jane Mansbridge Award. Dr. Gill is currently working on a number of projects to combat implicit and institutional bias against women in political science and the STEM disciplines. Dr. Gill is the co-author of Judicialization of Politics: The Interplay of Institutional Structure, Legal Doctrine, and Politics on the High Court of Australia (Carolina Academic Press, 2012). Her work has appeared in prestigious scholarly outlets including the Georgetown Law Journal, Law & Society ReviewPolitics, Groups, and Identities, and the Ohio State Law Journal. Her work has been featured in a number of popular outlets, like the Washington Post, the Las Vegas Review-Journal, and the Wall Street Journal Law Blog.

Research Interests

Judicial Politics

Gender and Politics

State and Local Politics

Elections, Election Administration, and Voting Behavior

Australia And Pacific Island Politics

Specific Areas of Interest


Women In Academia

Sexual Harassment: Politics

Women In Politics

Gender And Judging


Countries of Interest

United States



Journal Articles:

(2018) Where are the Women? Legal Traditions and Descriptive Representation on the European Court of Justice, Politics Groups and Identities

Tags: European Politics, Judicial Politics, Gender and Politics

What constrains the representation of women on the European Court of Justice (ECJ)? In this paper, we investigate how gender-based double standards can diminish the likelihood that the member state will select a female candidate. We find that the appointment of women to the ECJ depends upon the relationship between the appointee's policymaking backgrounds and the degree to which legal traditions in the member state provide policymaking experience to ordinary judges. The fact that this configuration has a disparate impact by candidate gender reflects the fact that female candidates are expected to demonstrate partisan neutrality or policymaking expertise, while male candidates are assumed to have these traits. Our findings demonstrate the importance of informal job requirements and institutional constraints on the ability of governments to achieve their representation goals.

(2017) The Impact of Maleness on Judicial Decision Making: Masculinity, Chivalry, and Immigration Appeals, Politics Groups and Identities

Tags: Judicial Politics, Immigration & Citizenship, Gender and Politics

Evidence of gendered decision making by judges has been mixed at best. We argue that this is a result of a narrow focus on how female judges differ from male judges. This treats women as the “other,” and the primary object of study is often to determine why female judicial behavior differs from the “norm” of male behavior. We depart from this tradition by using male-centered theories to derive and test hypotheses about maleness and the interactive effect of judge gender and litigant gender in appellate decision making. Drawing on findings from an original dataset of immigration appeals, we find evidence that gender biases manifest themselves in patterns of appellate decision making among all-male panels. Despite our predictions, female judges may also demonstrate evidence of these biases.

(2017) Invisible Adjudication in the U.S. Courts of Appeals, Georgetown Law Journal

Tags: Judicial Politics

Nonprecedent decisions are the norm in federal appellate courts and are seen by judges as a practical necessity given the size of their dockets. Yet this system has always been plagued by doubts. If only some decisions are designated to be precedents, questions arise about whether courts might be acting arbitrarily in other cases. Such doubts have been overcome in part because nominally unpublished decisions are available through standard legal research databases. This creates the appearance of transparency, mitigating concerns that courts may be acting arbitrarily. But what if this appearance is an illusion? This Article reports empirical data drawn from a study of immigration appeals showing that many—and in a few circuits, most—decisions by the federal courts of appeals are in fact unavailable and essentially invisible to the public. This Article reviews the reasons why nonpublication is a practical, constitutional, and philosophical challenge for judges. It argues that the existence of widespread invisible adjudication calls for a rethinking of the way courts operate, the way practitioners advise clients, and the way scholars study the legal system.

(2016) The Ideal Judge: How Implicit Bias Shapes Assessment of State Judges, Romanian Judges Forum Review

Tags: Judicial Politics, Gender and Politics, State and Local Politics

Judicial Performance Evaluation (JPE) is generally seen as an important part of the merit system, which often suffers from a lack of relevant voter information. Utah’s JPE system has undergone significant change in recent years. Using data from the two most recent JPE surveys, we provide a preliminary look at the operation of this new system. Our results suggest that the survey component has difficulty distinguishing among the judges on the basis of relevant criteria. The question prompts intended to measure performance on different ABA categories are also indistinguishable. We find evidence that, on some measures, female judges do disproportionately worse than male judges. We suggest that the free response comments and the new Court Observation Program results may improve the ability of the commission to make meaningful distinctions among the judges on the basis of appropriate criteria.

(2014) The JPE Commission: Toward a More Transparent and Informative Evaluation, Judicature

Tags: Judicial Politics

The judicial performance evaluation (JPE) commission is the key player in the JPE process. The commission generally has very few binding rules to follow and thus has a great deal of discretion in how to proceed. This preliminary investigation suggests the JPE commissions may be relying heavily on the attorney surveys to identify recipients of negative recommendations.

(2014) Implicit Bias in Judicial Performance Evaluations: We Must Do Better Than This, Justice Systems Journal

Tags: Judicial Politics, Gender and Politics, State and Local Politics

Judicial performance evaluations (JPEs) are a critical part of selecting judges, especially in states using merit-based selection systems. This article shows empirical evidence that gender and race bias still exist in attorney surveys conducted in accordance with the ABA's Guidelines. This systematic bias is related to a more general problem with the design and implementation of JPE surveys, which results in predictable problems with the reliability and validity of the information obtained through these survey instruments. This analysis raises questions about the validity and reliability of the JPE. This is a particularly poor outcome, as it means that we are subjecting many judges to state-sponsored evaluations that are systematically biased against women and minorities.

(2014) Buying Time? False Assumptions About Abusive Appeals, Catholic University Law Review

Tags: Judicial Politics, Immigration & Citizenship

A noncitizen facing deportation from the United States must obtain a stay of removal to avoid being deported while his federal appeal is pending. In its 2009 decision in Nken v. Holder, the Supreme Court attempted to clarify the doctrinal standard for obtaining such a stay However, key parts of the decision now stand on shaky ground because subsequent litigation has revealed that the Solicitor General’s Office misled the Court to believe that procedures were in place to bring wrongfully deported individuals back to the United States if they ultimately won their appeals. In addition, the federal circuit courts of appeal are split on how to apply the Nken standard. The government’s rush to deport first and resolve appeals later stems from a belief that many noncitizens abuse the appeals process to remain in the United States for a longer period of time. This fear assumes that filing an appeal actually buys a significant amount of time. The opening line of Chief Justice Roberts’s majority opinion in Nken recognized the critical role of time, but could only vaguely note: “It takes time to decide a case on appeal. Sometimes a little; sometimes a lot.” Unpacking fears of abuse therefore requires exploring how long the appellate process actually takes. In a concurring opinion, Justice Kennedy lamented the lack of available empirical data about how the federal courts of appeals actually handle stays of removal, recognizing that such data would help the Court analyze whether the standard for granting stays is fair and effective. This Article presents new empirical data that shows that common assumptions about the duration of immigration appeals are actually false. The government’s arguments to the Supreme Court about the danger that stays of removal pose were founded on these misperceptions. This new data should affect how liberally appellate courts grant stays of removal and assist the Supreme Court in resolving the circuit split over the application of the Nken standard.

(2014) Justice on the Fly: The Danger of Errant Deportations, Ohio State Law Journal

Tags: Judicial Politics, Immigration & Citizenship

he government may deport an immigrant appealing a deportation order in federal court even before the court rules on the case, unless the court issues a stay of removal. In its 2009 decision in Nken v. Holder, the Supreme Court clarified that the legal standard for stays of removal is the same test courts use for preliminary injunctions. Yet Justice Kennedy expressed frustration that the Court had little data to inform its decision. The Court will likely need to revisit this issue, as doubts cloud the meaning of Nken’s main holdings, in part because the government misled the Court. This Article responds to Justice Kennedy’s request for data and sheds light on the doctrinal controversies surrounding stays by presenting groundbreaking empirical analysis of 1646 cases in all the circuits that hear immigration appeals. It offers a singular window into an arena of adjudication where decisions are rarely articulated in writing. Among our most important findings, the circuit courts denied stays of removal in about half of the appeals that were ultimately granted, an alarming type of error that could result in people being errantly deported to countries where they risk persecution or torture. Our results also suggest that legal doctrine makes an important difference in how accurately courts identify which cases merit a stay, but that no magic bullet exists to avoid errors. In order to adopt an effective approach to stays of removal, courts must confront an important value judgment about whether to err on the side of preventing wrongful removal or on the side of avoiding delayed deportation.

(2013) Beyond High Hopes and Unmet Expectations, Judicature

Tags: Judicial Politics, State and Local Politics

The scholarly debate about how to select state judges has been ongoing for decades; the public debate on the issue spans more than a century. Proponents on each side seem confident that their preferred method of judicial selection is the best. Reformers argued that, “judicial elections deserve the limelight in the variety show of threats to judicial independence.” Defenders of judicial elections have countered that judicial reformers are “waging war on democratic processes and the rights of citizens to maintain control over government.” The empirical evidence to date, however, has largely resulted in a draw. The more we learn about the actual performance of these systems, the more difficult it becomes to declare one or the other system the winner. The purpose of this article is not to settle this debate, but neither will I shy away from it. Instead, I discuss what we currently know about judicial selection in the American states and what it means for the future.

(2011) Are Judicial Performance Evaluations Fair to Women and Minorities? A Cautionary Tale from Clark County, Nevada, Law and Society Review

Tags: Judicial Politics, State and Local Politics, Gender and Politics

Because voters rely on judicial performance evaluations when casting their ballots, policymakers should work diligently to compile valid, reliable, and unbiased information about our sitting judges. Although some claim that judicial performance evaluations are fair, the systematic research needed to establish such a proposition has not been done. By the use of attorney judicial performance survey data from Clark County, Nevada, this analysis shows that objective measures of judicial performance cannot explain away differences in scores based on race and sex. Minority judges and female judges score consistently and significantly lower than do their white and male counterparts, all other things being equal. These results are consistent with the hypothesis that judicial performance evaluation surveys may carry with them unexamined and unconscious gender/race biases. Future research must compare judicial performance evaluation structure, content, and execution across states in order to identify those evaluation mechanisms least susceptible to unconscious gender and race bias.

Books Written:

(2012) Judicialization of Politics: The Interplay of Institutional Structure, Legal Doctrine, and Politics on the High Court of Australia, Carolina Academic Press

Tags: Judicial Politics, Comparative Political Institutions, Australia And Pacific Island Politics

This book examines the judicialization of politics in the High Court of Australia. The authors argue it is the interplay of institutional structures, a growing concern for individual rights, and the willingness of the justices to engage in purposive policymaking that lead the court to engage in judicial politics. The High Court of Australia underwent a significant structural change in its jurisdiction at about the same time that it was also experiencing a shift away from strict legalism. Segments of the Australian population began to lose faith in the ability of Parliament to right societal wrongs and protect the rights of individuals. The result was a period of time in which the decision-making of the High Court was under scrutiny because the Court seemed to be engaging in policymaking. The findings suggest that justices can be constrained by institutional structures and the acceptance of restrictive legal doctrines. Changes in those conditions are necessary for judicialization of politics to occur in a court. The book will be of interest to a wide range of scholars who are interested in the phenomenon of the judicialization of politics. These scholars include law school professors, political scientists, and other academics studying judicial politics and the role of constitutional structures and legal doctrine in decision-making. The book is ideal for use in a graduate seminar on judicial politics and/or comparative legal systems. It provides an excellent example of a comparative research design and analyses that would be a valuable instructional tool in a graduate class.

Book Chapters:

(2018) A Swing State No More? Demographic and Political Change in the Silver State, Rowman & Littlefield International

Tags: Elections, Election Administration, and Voting Behavior, State and Local Politics

The 2020 United States presidential race is arguably already over except for about 12 states and 20 counties. If recent presidential election trends are any indication of what will happen in 2020, Democrats in Texas and Republicans in New York might as well stay home on election day because their votes will matter little in the presidential race. The same might be said for voters in most states and counties in the United States. Conversely, for those in Ohio, Florida, Colorado, Iowa, and a handful of other states, every vote matters. These states will be battered with a barrage of presidential candidate visits, commercials, political spending, and countless stories in the media. This book analyzes why the presidential race has been effectively reduced to about a dozen states and 20 counties. Contributors to this volume make substantial updates and additions in light of the 2016 and in anticipation of the 2020 presidential elections, including 6 new chapters exploring why some states are swingers in presidential elections, capable of being won by either of the major candidates. The volume also adds a chapter examining important swing counties throughout the country. Presidential Swing States describes what makes these few states and counties unique and why the presidency is decided by who wins them. With cases studies written by prominent political scientists who are experts on these swing states, Presidential Swing States also explains why some states have been swingers but no longer are, why some are swinging, and which states may become the ones that decide the presidency

(2016) Do Judicial Performance Evaluations Influence Retention Election Results, Routledge

Tags: Judicial Politics, State and Local Politics

Leading authorities present the latest cutting edge research on state judicial elections. Starting with recent transformations in the electoral landscape, including those brought about by U.S. Supreme Court rulings, this volume provides penetrating analyses of partisan, nonpartisan, and retention elections to state supreme courts, intermediate appellate courts, and trial courts. Topics include citizen participation, electoral competition, fundraising and spending, judicial performance evaluations, reform efforts,attack campaigns, and other organized efforts to oust judges. This volume also evaluates the impact of judicial elections on numerous aspects of American politics, including citizens’ perceptions of judicial legitimacy, diversity on the bench, and the consequences of who wins on subsequent court decisions. Many of the chapters offer predictions about how judicial elections might look in the future. Overall, this collection provides a sharp evidence-based portrait of how modern judicial elections actually work in practice and their consequences for state judiciaries and the American people.

(2015) The Religion Clauses in the 21st Century: The Supreme Court Loosens its Grip, Wiley

Tags: Judicial Politics, Religion & Politics

The Wiley Blackwell Companion to Religion and Politics in the U.S. provides a broad, inclusive, and rich range of chapters, in the study of religion and politics. Arranged in their historical context, chapters address themes of history, law, social and religious movements, policy and political theory. Broadens the parameters of this timely subject, and includes the latest work in the field Draws together newly-commissioned essays by distinguished authors that are cogent for scholars, while also being in a style that is accessible to students. Provides a balanced and inclusive approach to religion and politics in the U.S. Engages diverse perspectives from various discourses about religion and politics across the political and disciplinary spectra, while placing them in their larger historical context

(2015) Swing State Politics in the Silver State, Lexington Books

Tags: Elections, Election Administration, and Voting Behavior, State and Local Politics

The 2016 presidential race is arguably already over in 40 states and the District of Columbia. If recent presidential election trends are any indication of what will happen in 2016, Democrats in Texas and Republicans in New York might as well stay home on election day because their votes will matter little in the presidential race. The same might be said for the voters in 38 other states too. Conversely, for those in Ohio, Florida, Colorado, Iowa, and a handful of other states, their votes matter. These states will be battered with a barrage of presidential candidate visits, commercials, political spending, and countless stories about them by the media. Understanding why the presidential race has been effectively reduced to only ten states is the subject of Presidential Swing States: Why Only Ten Matter. Stacey Hunter Hecht and David Schultz offer a first of its kind examination of why some states are swingers in presidential elections, capable of being won by either of the major candidates. Presidential Swing States describes what makes these few states unique and why the presidency is decided by who wins them. With cases studies written by prominent political scientists who are experts on these swing states, Presidential Swing States also explains why some states have been swingers but no longer are, why some are swinging, and what states beyond 2016 may be the future ones that decide the presidency.

Media Appearances:

TV Appearances:

(2018) KVVU

Valley leaders highlight progress on International Women's Day

(2018) Voice of America News

Women Played 'Pivotal' Role in Shifting House to Democrats

(2016) The Hard Line

Rebecca Gill analyzes the GOP Nevada caucus.

(2016) KLAS

Discussed current issues before the U.S. Supreme Court.

(2015) UNLV-TV

Discussed gender bias in evaluations of public officials.

Radio Appearances:

(2018) KNPR

Chris Giunchigliani won’t be our next governor, but we’re likely to see more women take office in the next year. That’s because women are running for every state assembly seat that’s open, and more than half of the state senate seats that are available. Depending on how the elections go in November, Nevada could become the first state in history to have a majority-female legislature. Rebecca Gill, the director of the Women's Research Institute of Nevada, says the more women are entering politics for several different reasons, including the results of the 2016 presidential election and the efforts by groups around the country to recruit female candidates. For Sondra Cosgrove with the League of Women Voters of Southern Nevada, it is not just about getting women elected. It is about making sure those women have a say in how the elected body is run. “Just getting women elected to the Legislature would be a milestone, but then I want to see that they’re given the opportunity to set the agenda, to be in leadership positions and that they’re not going to have to worry about harassment,” she said. Women in elected office tend to introduce more bills addressing women's issues, children and social welfare, but a New York Times report found that only about 1 percent of those bills introduced by women in Congress have actually passed.

(2018) KNPR

When UNLV political science professor Rebecca Gill was a graduate student at Michigan State in 2003, she went through something that is today causing quite a stir in academia. Those 15 years ago, Gill says she was asked by the editor of a major academic journal of political science to have an affair with him. She said she was stunned. ”I was shocked. I didn’t really see it coming,” she said, “I said, something like ‘you can’t expect me to answer that.” The editor of that journal was William G. Jacoby, a political science professor who was, at the time, on his way to a professorship at Michigan State University. Gill held onto that story until a conference in January that dealt with mentoring graduate students. Though she didn't use Jacoby's name, it was clear to some listening who she meant. Since then, at least one other woman has made similar allegations. And earlier this week, Jacoby wrote in the editorial space of the American Journal of Political Science that his accusers weren't telling the truth. He also said he would step down as editor in December. Gill says she was "gobsmacked" by Jacoby's editorial. “What surprised me most was the forum that he used," she said, "He put this on the main page of one of the best known academic journals in my discipline. This has a huge reach and it is a platform that carries with it a lot of official power.” That’s not the end of it, though. At least one investigation is ongoing. And several dozen professors have signed a letter asking that Jacoby is fired. For Gill, Jacoby's dismissal is not her primary goal. “My intention when I first talking about this story was really to help us as an academic discipline get better at mentoring people and get better at creating welcoming climates for all sorts of different kinds of people.”

(2014) KNPR

The district attorney for Carson City recently dropped his city's opposition to same-sex marriage -- because of a ruling in a California case completely unrelated to Nevada. Courts all over the country have been ruling in favor of allowing same-sex marriage. So will the dominoes continue to fall in such a way that topples Nevada ban on same-sex marriage? And what is the danger of deciding public policy in that way?

(2009) KNPR

Hispanics comprise about 25 percent of Southern Nevada's population, or about 450,000 people. In fact, a recent report from The Pew Hispanic Center finds that one of every five childen in the U.S. is Hispanic. Juxtapose that with recent U.S. Supreme Court rulings on affirmative action and the voting rights act, and definitions of what constitutes a "minority" in this country and this region are rapidly changing. NPR's Juan Williams, San Diego Union-Tribune columnist Ruben Navrette, Senior Legal Fellow & Deputy Director, Center for Legal and Judicial Studies at the Heritage Foundation, Robert Alt, and Professor of Political Science at UNLV, Rebecca Wood, help us understand what this could mean for political, social and economic life in Southern Nevada and the United States.

(2009) KNPR

The Golden State's high court ruled earlier this week that California's voter-approved measure outlawing same-sex marriage allows for 18,000 same-sex marriages to remain legal. Will Nevada courts honor those marriages? We talk with UNLV Political Science Prof. Rebecca Wood; and Brad Sears, executive director of the Williams Institute on Same Sex Law and Policy.

Newspaper Quotes:


The Supreme Court’s legitimacy crisis is here, Brett Kavanaugh’s Senate confirmation will likely turn many Americans against the Court itself.

(2018) Nevada Current

Reporting sex abuse: Damned if you do or don’t.

(2018) Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Candidates for top GA posts pledge sexual harassment reform

(2018) Atlanta Journal-Constitution

State’s weak response to sexual harassment makes reporting risky. Some perceive state government as a good old boys club, protecting its own

(2018) Las Vegas Review-Journal

Las Vegas Strip companies work toward gender pay equity

(2018) Las Vegas Review-Journal

Survey to find which Nevada companies have best gender-equality policies

(2018) Inside Higher Ed

A Political Scientist Says #MeToo. A professor shares her experience of harassment and sees support as well as backlash, enabled in part by a controversial anonymous online forum for political scientists.

(2018) Las Vegas Review-Journal

CES programming highlights national, local issues with gender parity

(2018) Las Vegas Review-Journal

Kim Sinatra stepping down from role at Wynn Resorts

(2018) Nevada Independent

How a UNLV Professor's #MeToo moment sparked her involvement in harassment prevention.

(2018) Chronicle of Higher Education

An Editor Uses His Journal’s Website to Deny Sexual-Misconduct Claims. Scholars Revolt.

(2018) Inside Higher Ed

Editorial Malpractice? The editor of a prestigious political science journal uses its website to deny harassment allegations against him, prompting the Midwest Political Science Association to take action critics say it should have taken months ago.

(2018) Nevada Current

#MeToo on ice in Nevada casinos

(2018) Nevada Current

Election Takeaways: Washoe Blues, Rural-Urban Divide Deepens.

(2018) UNLV News

Political Scientist Empowers Others with her #MeToo Moment.

(2018) Michigan Daily

MSU professor investigated for sexual misconduct, resigns from journal

(2018) The UNLV Scarlet & Gray Free Press

First Amendment Allows Religious Speech on Campus, No Matter How Uncomfortable.

(2016) Ozy

The Justice Issue Lurking Behind the Bench

(2015) Washington Post

A stay on deportations

(2015) Wall Street Journal

In Federal Appeals Courts, Chivalry Is Not Dead

(2015) Vegas Seven

Why Nevada Couldn’t Afford a Religious Freedom Act: Nevada quietly (and wisely) says no to a controversial religious freedom act

(2014) Las Vegas Review-Journal

‘Judging the Judges’ tilts against women

(2013) Las Vegas Review-Journal

Henderson Municipal Court Judge Department 1 election set for June 4

(2010) Las Vegas Review-Journal

A matter of fairness

(2010) Las Vegas Review-Journal

Question 1

(2010) Las Vegas Review-Journal

Many lawyers seek appointment system

(2010) Las Vegas Review-Journal

Survey raises questions about women on the bench

(2010) Las Vegas Review-Journal

Court wants to let more people join in evaluating judges

(2010) Las Vegas Review-Journal

How should we evaluate our judges for the voters at election time?