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April 1, 2009

How well do law schools address gendered realities in the profession?

090227_ginsburg Especially because criminal justice law and policy is a very gendered topic (though rarely seen that way outside of a few topics), I frequently try to emphasize gendered perspectives in substantive class discussions.  In these discussions, I often note and sometimes lament that relatively few prosecutors and judges are women.  I also sometimes encourage students to think about whether and how criminal law and policy might be different if the majority of prosecutors and judges were women.

I sense that some of my colleagues (and especially my female colleagues) also ensure that gendered perspectives are brought into classroom discussion.  But I also get a sense that, outside of the classroom, law schools as institutions generally ignore (or even downplay to modern students) the history of gender bias in the legal profession and the (significant?) gendered realities that still impact modern legal power structures.

I raise these points not only because my law school will be hosting the only current female Supreme Court Justice next week, but also because I just came across this interesting research via SSRN. The article, which is titled "From Lawyer to Judge: Advancement, Sex, and Name-Calling," provide some worrisome insights into how lawyers judge one another. Here is the abstract:

This paper provides the first empirical test of the Portia Hypothesis: females with masculine monikers are more successful in legal careers. Utilizing South Carolina microdata, we look for correlation between an individual's advancement to a judgeship and his/her name's masculinity, which we construct from the joint empirical distribution of names and gender in the state's entire population of registered voters. We find robust evidence that nominally masculine females are favored over other females. Hence, our results support the Portia Hypothesis.

My gut instinct tells me that law schools generally do a poor job preparing students for many consequential gendered realities that they will encounter upon heading into the workplace.  But maybe this perspective itself reflects my own gender bias: as a man, I rarely attend or even keep up with the activities of the various gender-oriented student groups and I do not have many opportunities to discuss gender issues when counseling students about professional opportunities.

Posted by DAB

April 1, 2009 in Legal profession realities and developments | Permalink


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What a hateful feminist, pure evil, extreme left wing America hater. Her speech was a national disgrace, and a violation of the oath she took from the Judiciary Act of 1789.

""I, A. B., do solemnly swear or affirm, that I will administer justice without respect to persons, and do equal right to the poor and to the rich, and that I will faithfully and impartially discharge and perform all the duties incumbent on me as , according to the best of my abilities and understanding, agreeably to the constitution, and laws of the United States. So help me God."

She needs to resign or get impeached. Cancer cannot take too soon.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Apr 14, 2009 12:30:09 AM

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