Minna Kotkin, “Of Authorship and Audacity: An Empirical Study of Gender Disparity and Privilege in the ‘Top Ten’ Law Reviews”

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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.

Downloadable here. The grapevine suggests this article is going to be a hot topic, so be sure and actually read it for yourself, rather than accepting secondhand accounts of what it says.

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0 Responses to Minna Kotkin, “Of Authorship and Audacity: An Empirical Study of Gender Disparity and Privilege in the ‘Top Ten’ Law Reviews”

  1. mkotkin says:

    Thanks Ann – I would really appreciate comments after people have read it, given what’s going on here:


  2. Ann Bartow says:

    I had a feeling that would happen. Sorry. Let’s talk tomorrow if you have time.

  3. Ann Bartow says:

    I should add that I like Orin Kerr a lot and his post is mostly fair, though I think he should take the anonymous comments offering “anecdotal evidence” about submissions data with a big grain of salt, a huge block of salt actually. His concluding paragraph strikes me as entirely reasonable, and maybe some actual data can be obtained from ExpressO to address this in a later article, which hopefully you will still consider writing.

    But some of the comments there are horrible, and I’m sorry for the distress that is doubtlessly causing you.