January 29, 2014
Women in Corporate Law
Posted by Gordon Smith

Harvard Business School Dean Nitin Nohria issued a public apology to women on behalf of HBS:

Nohria conceded there were times when women at Harvard felt "disrespected, left out, and unloved by the school. I'm sorry on behalf of the business school," he told a hushed room. "The school owed you better, and I promise it will be better."

As for the future ...

Among other things, Nohria pledged to more than double the percentage of women who are protagonists in Harvard case studies over the next five years, to 20%. Currently, about 9% of Harvard case studies -- which account for 80% of the cases studied at business schools around the world -- have women as protagonists. 

Now that you mention it, women are not prominent in corporate law cases, either. Sandy Lerner of Cisco fame plays a leading (and unflattering) role in Urban Decay, but that is not a famous case, except to those students who use my casebook. Probably the most famous leading role for a woman goes to Martha Stewart for the litigation in connection with insider trading charges.

I am sure there are other examples, but what occurred to me again going through this exercise was how different business schools and law schools are in their basic orientation to the world. Business cases usually focus on success stories, but law cases are, almost by definition, failure stories. So if you want to make up to any group in a law school, you would never think to feature them in more cases!

Corporate Law, Gender Issues | Bookmark

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