April 17, 2005
An All-Female Law School?
Posted by Christine Hurt

On Saturday, Ann Althouse threw out the question of whether there should be an all-women's law school.  Coincidentally, after reading her question, I found myself in a conversation at the soccer field with two other moms about whether we should sign our girls up for coed 6 year-old soccer next year or all-girl 6 year-old soccer.  I will attempt to tie this together, but my short answers are:  all-girl soccer, "yes;" all-women law school, "no."

I was actually in the minority for "all-girl" soccer.  In co-ed soccer, my daughter is quite far behind the 5 year-old boys in gross motor skills and assertiveness/aggressiveness/roughness/hustle (name your euphemism for being willing to "get in there").  Her response is to just tune out.  The other moms argued that their daughters rose to the challenge when they played with boys.  So, if I let my little girl play on an all-girl team that she will enjoy, will I be sentencing her to being lulled into a false sense of competence for the rest of her life?  I don't think so for two reasons (1) she will be a mere 6 years old and (2) after a certain age, all soccer is gender segregated, so there's no rude awakening down the line to worry about.

So, what about an all-women's law school?

Notably, when women go to law school, there physical, emotional, and intellectual development is in its advanced stages.  They are pretty much going to law school with most of the cognitive and physical skills with which they will also leave.  And, they will leave to enter into a profession that is not only not all-women, but mostly male.  A rude awakening is down the line.  Although I would be supportive of my daughter going to an all-female K-12 school if I felt that she would be more comfortable with her identity at the school during troublesome preteen/teen years, I would also know that she would at some point be in a coed environment before entering into a profession. 

Although an all-women law school might give more women opportunities for leadership positions or networking bonds, I would be afraid that my daughter would graduate with an unrealistic view of the legal profession, positive or negative.  Much of law school is learning to know your audience. 

Not to mention that I've been subscribing to the "law school is enhanced by having a diverse student body of all genders, races, religions, and backgrounds" theory for quite awhile now!

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