In today’s law schools, article placement is a significant consideration in hiring, promotion, tenure, and lateral mobility. This article analyzes authorship by gender and home school “privilege” in 15 law reviews (the “top ten”) over a three year period. It compares these data with the gender composition of the professoriate and of the 15 law schools’ faculties, using Association of American Law Schools and American Bar Association statistics. The mean percentage of articles authored by one or more women (and no men) is 20.3. Nationally, women comprise 31% of the tenured/tenure-track professoriate and 28.3% at the 15 schools. At the associate and assistant professor levels, the national figures are 46.8% and 53.9% respectively. As to privilege, 45% of authors come from US News top ten schools, 61% from the top 25, and 70% from the top 50, cumulatively.
The article considers a number of possible explanations for the gender disparity, including: years and subject matter of teaching; affirmative action; institutional and family commitments; and social science theories. At least as to the quantifiable hypotheses, none fully explains the disparity. The article concludes with the suggestion that editorial boards examine their selection processes for unconscious bias with regard to gender and conscious bias with regard to privilege and that they consider adopting true anonymous submissions. It also argues that some number of women academics have not perfected the “audacity” factor that may contribute to article placement in elite journals. Although the gender gap in hiring and promotion has largely been resolved, the top of the legal academic ladder will elude women until the gender disparity in publications is overcome.
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