April 15, 2005
Women in the Academy and Legal Profession (Sigh) Again
Posted by Christine Hurt

Prawfsblawg is throwing out highly charged questions about women in academia, and so I guess I have to take the bait.  I'm going to divide my thoughts into two posts, this one, on the explicit question of why entry-level hires are not 50/50 male/female, and another post, on the implicit question of why women exit the legal profession in greater numbers than men.

Ethan points out that Larry Solum's survey reflects that only 39% of entry-level hires are women, which would be less than the 50% of recent law graduates that are women.  The comments have great hypotheses, but I would argue that the single greatest impediment to women in legal academia is that law school hiring for tenure-track positions is done nationally, requiring candidates to be geographically mobile.

I can support this hypothesis with something other than anecdotal evidence.  Prof. Solum's survey is for tenure-track, entry-level hires, most of which were probably hired through the national hiring conference.  However, instructors in legal writing positions are for the most part hired locally.  An advertisement may be published on a legal writing listserv, but most non-tenure track hires are made locally.  In the 2003 ALWD survey (available at www.alwd.org, and the most recent survey online), legal writing programs were asked how many hires they had made over the past 5 years by gender.  In the five years preceding 2003, 150 legal writing hires were made, and 100 of those hires were women.  Women are overrepresented in these academic jobs, which are filled locally.

As working married women are on average the second earners in the households, many women are not able to interview and accept jobs in other cities.  In my experience, many qualified applicants choose to take legal writing jobs at schools in their hometowns rather than move their families for a t-track job.

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About half of all law students, including at top schools, are women. But mos ..." [more] (Tracked on April 15, 2005 @ 13:50)

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Comments (1)

1. Posted by Ann Bartow on April 16, 2005 @ 14:34 | Permalink

The 39% figure seems high to me, though I recognize that with constant updating the figure is in flux. In any event, what is also quite striking is the way the top schools seem to hire men disproportionately. While Tennessee (e.g.) managed to hire three women, schools like Berkeley, Chicago, Fordham, GW, Georgia, Minnesota and NYU etc. seem to only be hiring men, and UVA hired three men and one women, it appears. Tulane seems to have managed to hire two women (as well as a man), and one out of two listed for Texas is female, while Columbia's only new entry level hire seems to be female. Overall, though, the "presigious" entry levels jobs are overwhelmingly going to men. Some women will "move up" by getting hired laterally, but that usually requires a geographic move too, which family considerations may preclude, so the pool of female "lateral possibles" is likley to be even smaller than the pool of entry level women.

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