In disciplines outside law, faculty appointments and promotions (including tenure) are not in the hands of student journal editors. Of course, they do not depend entirely on student-editors in law either â€“ but they do in part. Coming from Canada (where peer-reviewed journals are preferred), and with a partner in sociology (where peer-reviewed journals are the norm), I am surprised by this practice. While there are lots of reasons to wonder why student-run journals are privileged in US law schools, primary among them (to my mind) is the fact that students are not especially well trained or positioned to meet and address the systemic discrimination felt by women and minorities in trying to get their work published and â€˜valued’.
This is not an especially intuitive observation, and it has been made by lots of others before me. And this discrimination cannot be visited solely on law students (who often make great choices and invariably work very hard). Rather, I think it has more to do with the fact that they are the wrong people to be making these publishing decisions. Not because they are â€˜bad’ people (some of my best friends were students), but because their experience and training makes them ill-suited for the task.
When I first started teaching, I was sufficiently perplexed (and not a little outraged) by these issues that I asked my research assistant to gather some statistics about the number of articles published by men and women in some of the top journals. These numbers would be even more revealing if we could create formulas that accounted for race, sexuality and disability (or the appearance of race or sexual preference or disability), or if we had the numbers on â€˜topics’ (because, of course, topics are gendered as well). But in any case, for what they are worth here are the numbers we found for 2001-2006.
articles: 17 female; 70 maleâ€¨
essays: 5 female; 14 maleâ€¨
comments/notes: 17 female; 23 male
articles: 19 female, 50 maleâ€¨
essays: 11 female. 37 maleâ€¨
comments/notes: 38 female, 45 male
Stanford (who had no female editor-in-chief any of these years):â€¨
articles: 32 female; 104 maleâ€¨
essays: 0 female; 1 maleâ€¨
comments/notes: 20 female; 42 male
articles: 25 female; 45 maleâ€¨
essays: 0 female; 4 maleâ€¨
comments/notes: 45 female; 61 male
articles: 16 female; 38 maleâ€¨
essays: 1 female; 6 maleâ€¨
comments/notes: 21 female; 38 male