Kotkin on “Gender and the Elite Law Reviews”

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Feminist Law Prof Minna Kotkin (Brooklyn) has posted to ssrn her article, “Gender and the Elite Law Reviews: An Empirical Study of Authorship.”   Here is the abstract:

Have you ever stood in the faculty library looking at the covers of elite law reviews and wondered where are the women? If you are a female academic, the answer is probably yes. This article tests my anecdotal impression that women authors are underrepresented in these journals. I analyze authorship by gender in thirteen (the top ten) reviews over a three year period, and also track the home school of the author, the year of starting teaching, and the gender of the editor-in-chief and executive articles editor. The article compares this statistical picture with the gender composition of the professoriat, using Association of American Law Schools statistics, and that of the law review schools’ faculty. I conclude that there is a significant publication bias against women at most of the journals. The article considers several possible explanations for the disparity in order of palatability: the subject matter hypothesis; the institutional player hypothesis; the family/child hypothesis; the affirmative action hypothesis; and the Larry Summers hypothesis. None of these provides a satisfactory explanation for the disparity. The articles concludes with the suggestion that editorial boards examine their selection processes for unconscious bias, and consider adopting anonymous submissions.

The full article is available here.  

-Bridget Crawford

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0 Responses to Kotkin on “Gender and the Elite Law Reviews”

  1. mkotkin says:

    Thanks for the plug, but it’s an abstract only. I hope to post the article in a few weeks.

  2. njnewton says:

    Minna, thanks for doing this – is the article available yet on SSRN, or just the abstract.

    I wanted to share that “back in the day” when we had a thriving group called the DC-MD-VA-WVA-WPA (we kept growing!) Women Law Professors group in DC, I presented stats gleaned from my review of the top ten law reviews over the previous 2-3 years at one of our conferences. This was in the mid to late 1980’s mind you, but the results were fascinating, dreadful underrepresentation, but interesting with regard to helping to identify which journals appeared to be more open to women. I’ll try to dig up the paper, but I fear it was lost in one of my many moves. Pennsylvania came out well compared to the competition, but that’s the only one I remember. Nell