February 14, 2010
Valentine’s Day Scholarship Special: Krawiec on Prostitution, Egg Donors, and Surrogacy
Posted by Erik Gerding

Kim Krawiec (Duke) has a new paper on SSRN, “A Woman’s Worth”, in which she disputes some of the traditional arguments for legal regulation of prostitution, oocyte donation, and surrogate pregnancy. Here is the abstract:

This Article examines three traditionally “taboo trades”: (1) the sale of sex, (2) compensated egg donation, and (3) commercial surrogacy. The article purposely invokes examples in which the compensated provision of goods or services (primarily or exclusively by women) is legal, but in which commodification is only partially achieved or is constrained in some way. I argue that incomplete commodification disadvantages female providers in these instances, by constraining their agency, earning power, and status. Moreover, anticommodification and coercion rhetoric is sometimes invoked in these settings by interest groups who, at best, have little interest in female empowerment and, at worst, have economic or political interests at odds with it.

Krawiec’s focus is on whether regulation of these markets reflect an inherent bias against women. For example, she questions why regulations of egg donation are so stringent (and appear to push women to “donate” for altruistic motives) while men face little comparable restrictions in sperm donation. This contributes to the shocking statistic cited by Krawiec that egg and sperm donors receive roughly the same hourly compensation for their services.

I see these regulations less as a means to regulate women differently and more as a way to protect the marriage contract as a social institution or tool of social control. There are some interesting connections between Krawiec’s work on these “taboo trades” and her research on financial derivatives. Whereas financial derivatives are often used as ways to unbundle the various economic rights associated with financial assets such as debt and equity, these taboo trades – prostitution, egg donation, and surrogacy – represent the unbundling (or decoupling) of the marriage contract. Religious and legal strictures traditionally bound sex, conception, and childbearing all within the confines of the marriage contract. As with derivatives, new technology and markets combined to allow these services to be unbundled. Regulation of trades of these unbundled services may be aimed at protecting the marriage contract (or at least minimizing its damage) and not just at regulating women per se.

In fact, these regulations also serve to control men – albeit indirectly. Regulating the availability of prostitution pushes men to seek sex in a relationship (like marriage). Raising the cost of surrogacy impacts men – including gay men -- who want fatherhood outside of heterosexual marriage. What explains then why women are the dominant targets of these regulations and not men? Perhaps it is gender bias. But law & economics may offer an alternative explanation. Women may be the cheapest cost avoiders. For example, it may be far cheaper to regulate the relatively fewer number of prostitutes compared to the larger number of johns. It may be easier to regulate egg donation and surrogacy – which often require more invasive technology than sperm donation.

Krawiec’s article opens up a number of interesting questions for future research – particularly how the unbundling of the marriage contract have different effects across class lines. This has long been an interesting area of inquiry in economics – see for example George Akerlof and Janet Yellen’s work on “reproductive technology shocks.” One hypothesis would be that both the markets and the restrictions Krawiec describes have widely differing impacts along two axis -- higher income and lower income women on the one hand and women seeking to be part of a long-term opposite sex relationship or not on the other. Disaggregating the analysis based on class might yield some very provocative conclusions. Might higher-income women favor price controls (including indirect price controls that operate through moral suasion) on surrogacy and oocyte donation because it keeps the cost of having a baby artificially low?

Happy Commercialized Romance Day!

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October 14, 2009
"The Women Who Mean Business"
Posted by Lisa Fairfax

The Financial Times recently published what it called its “definitive ranking of the world’s 50 most powerful and successful female chief executives.” The list, created in collaboration with recruitment group Egon Zehnder Indernational, profiles executives managing the controlling company in a group—as opposed to those that oversee units, even if such units are sometimes larger than some individual companies. Since the list is global, but limited to CEOs, the list is distinct from Fortune's annual ranking of the 50 most powerful women in the U.S. However, there is some overlap. For example, PepsiCo’s Indra Nooyi held the top spot on both lists, while Avon’s Andrea Jung and Kraft Food’s Irene Rosenfeld were in the top 10 of both lists.

The Financial Times’ list highlights some interesting statistics about women in business. Hence, the article notes that just 3% of Fortune 500 chief executives are women, while across Europe only 10% of board directors of the biggest companies are female. According to Catalyst, women hold about 15% of Fortune 500 board seats, while one Wall Street Journal article notes that 12% of companies have no women directors at all. Indeed, while women have made progress in these areas, such progress has been relatively slow. Thus, in the last decade, the percentage of women Fortune 500 CEOs has gone from .4% to 3%, while the percentage of women on Fortune 500 boards has gone from 11.1% to 15.2%.

To be sure, there are lots of interesting studies and theories not just about the relative pace of that progress, but also about why it matters, from a business perspective. Indeed, the Financial Times article begins by asking a question that always appears to crop up during a financial or governance crisis: “would we be better off if more women were in charge?” On this question, the article responds in at least two ways. First, it notes evidence from studies such as those by Catalyst and McKinsey suggesting that “a better gender balance has a positive impact on performance.” Second, it notes studies indicating that boards with a better gender balance “were more assiduous at monitoring,” suggesting that diversity may help prevent “groupthink” and thereby improve corporate governance. Of course, these studies are not without their critics and skeptics.

Interestingly, the article concludes with the following: “The financial crisis has, at least, made the business and moral case for change more apparent than ever.” However, similar statements were made during the 2002 accounting and governance scandals. And yet, the percentage of women board members and CEOs has been relatively unchanged since that time.

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July 13, 2009
Jack Welch, Grumpy Old Man? "There's No Such Thing as Work-Life Balance."
Posted by Christine Hurt

About a million years ago, Dana Carvey played "the grumpy old man" on SNL, "and we liked it!"  This WSJ article makes me wonder if Jack Welch was doing a grumpy old man impression at a human resources convention or whether he's just trying to wake people up.  Apparently, Welch (a University of Illinois alumni) was pretty blunt:  "There are work-life choices, and you make them, and they have consequences."  He gave as examples the female CEOs of ADM and DuPont who had "pretty straight careers" without taking time off for family.

Wow.  That's some cocktail party conversation.  Lots of scattered thoughts here.

1.    There are 100 CEOs of Fortune 100 firms.  Now, for the other 6 billion of us.  There are different ways to "have it all," and having a rich family life and being one of the top dogs at a huge conglomerate that's been around for a hundred years and probably has a strong corporate culture is one way.  But there are others.  I can imagine women creating their own path at a lot of other firms with different norms.  I like to read Mommy CEO blog sometimes, by a female CEO of a software company.  At our little corner of legal academia, we wonder a lot about women attorneys making partner, or even managing partner.  These are accomplishments that may constitute what Mr. Welch refers to as a "nice career," but maybe not what he thinks of as "the top."

2.    Of course, we know he's right, and that's the worst part.  In a lot of jobs, in a lot of places, individuals wanting to get to the top of whatever type of career ladder have to make difficult choices.  The toughest part of this next phase of career equality is realizing that yes, we can all now be anything we want to be, but maybe not everything we want to be.  As Mr. Welch points out, sometimes opportunity comes when you have suited up and shown up, and if you have taken time off, you just aren't there.

3.    This all brings me back to my old saw about "opt-in" programs, not "opt-out" programs.  Mr. Welch seems to be talking about women who are "taking time off for family;" presumably through extended leaves or maybe a part-time or reduced hours arrangement.  So, yes, the benefits we keep asking for aren't going to help -- but benefits that allow us to opt in (telecommuting technology, on-site daycare, ability to travel with family), these will.  In today's world, corporate actors are there "in the clutches" via Blackberry and iPhone from airports and far-flung cities anyway.  I can be "in the clutches" from Little League, no problem.

4,    Other thoughts?

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July 07, 2009
Academic Work-Life Balance: More on "Opting In"
Posted by Christine Hurt

Today's Chronicle of Higher Education had two stories that caught my "academic mom" attention.  First, "Is Having More than 2 Children an Unspoken Taboo?"  Yikes!  If it is, then no one told me.  Of course, on our faculty, we have several professors with 3, 4 or 5 kids, so maybe I just found the right school!  So, I was suprised to see statements like the following:

1.    (from an associate dean for academic affairs) "If anyone told me they wanted three kids, I would be thinking, What, are you nuts?"

2.    "Julianna Baggott knows full well that the third child is often considered the third rail of academe."

3.    "Georgia Frank, an associate professor of religion at Colgate University, says she senses an attitude from some in academe that anyone who has more than two children has surpassed an invisible quota."

No one interviewed me -- maybe co-blogger Lisa got a call?

At the end of this article was a series of tips for having large families in academia -- all reasonable, all known to me, many having to do with childcare, and all with opting in.  None of the suggestions had to do with negotiating for time off or reduced workloads -- just how to maximize the time you have to excel in both the domestic and career spheres.  (I have blogged before about how I love "opt in" policies, not "opt out" policies.)  So, on the heels of this article is another one entitled "Rice U. Minds the Kids so Employees Can Mind Their Jobs."

Having spent much of my adult life in Houston, I live Rice University and Rice people.  I think the only good part of moving away from Houston was that my kids may now want to go to Rice.  If only Rice had a law school!  Anyway, I digress. . . .

So, Rice has implemented various policies to allow its faculty with children to "opt in."  For example, emergency in-home childcare at $4/hour, so when you wake up and your child has a fever, you don't have to cancel your 10:30 class.  Also, a Montessori preschool, subsidized (almost free) daycare, and summer camp!  (I think I've mentioned the crazy quilt of summer camps before!)  So, believe me, when a Rice professor says

"One of the most stressful things about work-life balance is what to do when something goes a little bit wrong, and so a service like this just makes you realize it will be fine. I can't overemphasize how great that benefit is. Rice makes it very, very hard to even think about going anywhere else."

I believe her. And administrators interested in faculty retention should take note!

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May 19, 2009
"Family-Friendly" Workplace Policies: Opt-in v. Opt-out
Posted by Christine Hurt

Here at the Glom, we often post on topics such as women in the legal profession and working parents.  As a group, we are fairly qualified:  together we have 12 children, dual-career couples, including academic couples, spouses (both wives and husbands) that have stayed at home, maternity leaves and non-maternity leaves, daycare issues, nanny issues, you name it.

In April, I had the great opportunity to attend a Roundtable on Promissory Obligations sponsored by the University of Illinois Program in Law and Philosophy in Galena, Illinois, which is 4-5 hours away from Champaign.  The substance of the roundtable was fascinating and very thought-provoking.  However, the fact that I was even there was even more incredible.  The roundtable organizer, Heidi Hurd, my colleague and former dean, had done something amazing -- she had provided childcare for the conference attendees.  This allowed both my (law professor) husband and I to attend, as well as two other academic couples.  So, while we were debating aspects of the theories of promising, two childcare workers were taking seven children to the playground, pool, lunch, etc.  We were able to participate in conference dinners, and on the last night, the children put on a talent show.  Most importantly, I was able to meet very interesting people from both law schools and philosophy departments and gather ideas for my own research, without bearing the expense of finding an individual to watch our children at home or prevailing upon a relative to come to our home, both of which we have done in the past.

So this got me thinking about "family-friendly" workplace policies.  Most of the time, the policies that are proposed allow parents to "opt-out" of certain work obligations, temporarily or permanently:  maternity/paternity leave, part-time options, telecommuting.  However, I don't want to opt out.  I want to opt in and participate in my chosen career to the fullest.  Yes, you may be saying, you can do that -- by not having children and devoting yourself to your career.  But I am selfish -- I want the best of both worlds!  That's why I love opportunities to integrate my two worlds fully, without leaving one behind.  I suppose that on-site daycare is the obvious "opt-in" policy, but there are smaller steps also.

When I had my third baby in the Fall of 2007, I realized that I traveled to do workshops and attend conferences more than I had realized.  I did not want, however, to be excused from continuing to do this.  I didn't want people in my field to say, "Oh, right.  We haven't seen Christine much this year because she had a baby," even if they thought this was a perfectly valid reason to stay closer to home.  I wanted to participate -- to opt in.  So, I brought my baby and my mom to conferences.  I know of one rock star female law professor who really wanted to take part in a high-profile colloquium, but couldn't leave her young, still nursing baby.  So, the organizer threw in a plane ticket for the husband and baby to come, too.  A $300 fix to what seemed like an insurmountable problem.  I hope that we continue the search for great family friendly policies, but that we are aware unlike the possible isolating tendencies of "opt-out" polices, "opt-in" policies may be better for everyone involved.

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August 13, 2008
Salary Inequities: When Women Don't Ask
Posted by Tina Stark

The Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School publishes a monthly journal, Negotiation.  The June issue had a disturbing article about new research on women and negotiation.  According to a new book by Linda Babcock and Sara Laschever, Ask for It:  How Women Can Use the Power of Negotiation to Get What They Really Want,

men initiate negotiations to advance their interests about four times more often than women do. . . .Over the course of a woman’s career, the costs of overlooking opportunities to negotiate for her own interests can be staggering.  As an example, Babcock and her colleagues found that only 12.5% of women graduating with master’s degrees from the Heinz School [of Public Policy and Management at Carnegie Mellon University] in 2002 had negotiated their starting salaries, as compared with 51.5% of male graduates.  Babcock calculated that students who did not negotiate their starting salaries would forfeit at least $1 million in income over their lifetimes.

Salary aside, Babcock says that men are more likely than women to negotiate for resources, training, and other factors that boost job satisfaction and success.  It stands to reason that men who seek out career opportunities will advance more quickly in their organizations than equally qualified women who do not.  In reaction to such inequities, women may grow frustrated and decide to quit.  Given that turnover costs American companies billions of dollars each year, Babcock and Laschever argue that organizations suffer significantly from the fact that women ask for what they need less often than men do.

In a sad Catch-22, research also shows that women who did ask for more money were disliked and penalized.  The article suggests that a woman’s reluctance to negotiate may be reasonable in such instances.  It also notes the following:

Although overt gender discrimination. . . is largely a thing of the past, a more subtle form of inequity persists. . . Rather than intentional acts of bias, second-generation gender biases reflect the continuing dominance of traditionally masculine values in the workplace [emphasis in the original]. 

Although this research might lead one to conclude that women are less good overall as negotiators, researchers have found that when women negotiate on behalf of others they achieved better outcomes than men when bargaining on behalf of someone else.

So, what are the implications of this research for the academy?  Is this something that we should be teaching about in our negotiation courses?  If so, what is the best way to do it?  Or, are these issues best handled in another forum – one more informal? 

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March 06, 2008
Girl Talk: Biology and Language Skills
Posted by Fred Tung

Scientific American reports on a study attempting to explain the biological basis for why girls seem to have superior language skills compared to boys.  As a father of two sons experiencing some of the trials and tribulations of pre-school, I notice these stories.  Apparently, girls completing linguistics tasks show more brain activity in areas specialized for language encoding, while boys show activity in areas relating to visual and auditory functions.  What does this all mean?

[I]t implies that boys need to be taught language both visually (with a textbook) and orally (through a lecture) to get a full grasp of the subject, whereas a girl may be able to pick up the concepts by either method.

Subjects ranged from 9 to 15 years of age.  The next question is whether these differences persist with age.

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January 09, 2008
Gender Diversity in US Corporations
Posted by Lisa Fairfax

Dan's post regarding gender diversity on boards makes some very significant points, particularly about the importance of critical mass.  Many scholars worry that without critical mass, women will be marginalized, less willing to voice their opinions, and in some cases, experience pressure to conform.  But Dan's point about critical mass also reminded me about the relative lack of critical mass in American corporations. 

The latest Catalyst study reveals that women not only hold a small percentage of corporate board seats and other leadership positions at major companies, but also that the growth in such positons was stagnant from 2006 to 2007.  According to the study, the percentage of women board members, corporate officers, and top corporate earners was virtually unchanged from 2006 to 2007 at 14.8%, 15.4%, and 6.7%, respectively.  Moreover, the percentage of women in line positions--which analysts believe represents important gateways for promotion into top leadership positions--fell by 1.8% from 29% to 27.2%.  To be sure, the story is not all about decline or stagnation.  The number of women CEOs at Fortune 500 companies rose from 10-12.  Also, according to the Catalyst study, the number of women holding board committee chairs increased over the past year.  However, the relative stagnant growth in numbers for women business leaders suggests that women may be at an impasse, a concern raised by some scholars who worry about company executives who no longer feel inclinded to promote women once a few have been elevated to leadership positions.

Of course, many have recognized that the number of women in these positions is relatively low.  Indeed, Douglas Bronson's book No Seat at the Table is a good example of this recognition.  However, there is considerable debate about the impact of women on boards and as executive officers (economic or otherwise).  As Dan suggests, with such a small US sample size, it is difficult to get real insight into that debate.  But while we wait for the US sample size to improve, it will be nice to have some comparable data from other countries.

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October 03, 2007
Female Law School Applicants Declining: Opportunity Costs or Lifestyle Choice?
Posted by Christine Hurt

Yesterday I noticed this article from Law.com that reports that the number of women both applying to law school (larger decreases than the male applicant pool, which has decline also) and enrolling (46.9%, down from 49% five years ago) in is in decline.  The article attempts to explain these numbers with several theories, the most intiguing one that women are turning their backs on the legal profession because of recent reports on the lack of family-friendly policies in law firms.  Because of the high billable hour requirements and low probability of making partner, the theory goes, women are choosing not to begin a legal career and choosing other professions.

Although this hypothesis may be true for some would-be applicants, the example the story uses is not compelling for that explanation.  The article focuses on the choice by a recent college graduate to forego law school to become an analyst at Morgan Stanley in New York.  That does not seem like a lifestyle choice to me!  The job appears to be in the 2-year analyst, investment banker grooming vein.  (These young professionals were the subject of a NYT article a few weeks ago because they are no longer going to business school after their 2 year stint, but staying in the workforce and going directly into higher-level finance positions.)  The decision of the young woman depicted in the article seemed to be based on opportunity cost more than a choice to lead a more family-friendly lifestyle.

I do think that a hybrid theory that factors in both opportunity cost and work/life balance could be plausible, though.  Say a savvy female college graduate were weighing the decision to go into law or finance.  The graduate has read all the media reports that few women make partner at law firms and also rise to the top ranks of investment banking, particularly women that have children.  The graduate contemplates having a child sometime in her 30s (10 to 15 years down the road) and wants to maximize her earning potential during that 10-15 year span in the event that she exits the workforce at that time.  Going into finance, where she will start collecting a salary immediately and be eligible for bonuses, etc. without incurring any more educational expenses/debt, may be the wise choice.  All of this assumes that she will enjoy both careers equally and that her opportunities to re-enter the workforce at some time are the same.  All of this is speculation, of course, but I think the decision model is more complicated than the article describes.

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August 03, 2007
Differential Pricing at Law Firms & Gender
Posted by Christine Hurt

I know I am weeks (or months) behind on this topic, but I have been half-following the recent raises of Biglaw firms to 160k or close to it and the varied responses of a few firms.  First, I wanted to make the point that as someone who benefitted from salary hikes in the late 1990s and 2000, the general impression at firms was that these raises did not boost morale.  (Here's a Texas Lawyer story from today saying the same thing.)  Generally, salaries were hiked in response to lateral movement among attorneys and low morale because of higher hours worked.  The true reasons for associate dissatisfaction (lack of job security, unpredictability of schedule, tremendous hours, intense pressure from partners and clients) were never addressed because they were seemingly un-address-able given the law firm business model.  But, some money was thrown at the problem, which in most cases increased the amount each month that was swept into a mutual fund because no one had time to take a vacation or spend more money anyway. 

OK, but enough about that -- I wanted to talk about the firms that have decided that this may be a good time to move away from lock-step associate pay and bonuses.  Incredibly, most large law firms pay associates in the same "class" -- years since graduation -- the same salary and bonus.  In a model that is generally merit-based, pay is not.  Now, there are some slight exceptions:  upon lateralling, some associates bargain to be put in a different "class" based on various factors:  clerkships, prior job experience, MBA, etc.  I did see one associate in the hot, hot period of 1999-2000 lobby for an upward departure by threatening to take an offer from a rival law firm, but I think it backfired on the person because it created such animosity.  And, some firms in raising salaries in 2000 stipulated that those not billing a minimum amount of hours would not receive the full bonus, although the differential was more symbolic than real.  But, in the past month or so, we've seen Howrey & Simon announce a new pay scale that will differentiate associates on salary (see Bill Henderson for a good run-down of that story) and just yesterday Texas firm Winstead (which used to be Winstead Sechrest, but now seems to be Madonna-like and just "Winstead") said that the firm would not increase salaries across the board but instead would create a $25,000 year-end bonus for first-years making $135k.  However, the bonus is merit-based and not intended for everyone.

So, I want to pose the contrarian view that salary differentials could be beneficial to women and any other associates seeking work/life balance.  How can that be?  Won't this give big law firms an excuse to discriminate on the basis of gender and we'll find law firms to be as male-dominated as investment banks with their big discretionary bonuses?  We'll hold on.  Right now, the law firm tournament is pass-fail, only unlike most law school classes, the reality isn't high pass/pass, but more like high fail/fail.  Very few associates pass, or make partner.  The lock-step compensation is defended by saying that the true merit decision comes at partnership determination time.  But few associates like this system.  Why should the choice be to bill more than 90% of your colleagues and make a ton of money or not have a job at all?

I've known a number of female associates who try to pick family-friendly departments in law firms to have a more predictable lifestyle (ERISA, wills & estates, real estate).  But the pressure is immense.  They are in specialities where there aren't enough hours available to give all associates 2500 hours a year, but the expectation is still there.  They are getting paid the same as the folks in corporate who are billing 3000 hours, after all.  But the clients in these practices pore over billing statements, want flat fees and reduced rates, increasing the pressure on those associates in the "cost centers" or "loss leaders."  Not to mention the associates in the high-billable departments who would just like a normal lifestyle.  However, if you are told that if you bill less than 2000 hours you won't be fired but instead will forego your $25k bonus and only make $135k this year, then you may be willing to pay that premium.  The model moves from one where less-than-average hours is prohibited to one where that choice is priced.  Many people I know would be willing to pay that price.  Of course, the system would have to be integrated into the partnership decision, and I'm not sure we know how that will play out.  For example, in the Howrey firm, where associates move up in rank by merit, not by chronology, could an associate stay a "Level 3" for an unlimited number of years?  In short, I think if the model moves away from pass/fail to "pick your price," then it could be a win-win situation.

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July 31, 2007
"Family-Leave Values" & Parent Discrimination
Posted by Christine Hurt

I'm always a few days behind in reading the NYT Magazine, so I had already seen this post by Frank Pasquale on an article entitled "Do Workers Have a Fundamental Right to Care for Their Families?  The Latest Front in the Job-Discrimination Battle."  That article focuses on a new twist to gender discrimination claims -- claims that center on job termination or other negative treatment because of the worker's parental responsibilities or even mere parental status.  This theory is either used as part of a Title VII claim or an ADA claim (when the child in question has a disability).  Much of the theoretical work for this litigation position comes from the work of a Hastings law professor, Joan Williams, who wrote Unbending Gender in 2000.  That book gave as possibilities several ways to combat the growing tension between parent workers and employers, and one chapter talked of litigation, even though it conceded that "suing your employer is not the ideal mechanism of social change."  In the article, Williams updates her statement by saying that lawsuits "are the worst possible vehicle for social change, ecept for nothing, and that's where we are right now."

Two aspects of the article were very interesting to me.  One was the description of a study by the Cognitive Bias Working Group, which sent over a thousand resumes to both volunteers and real employers.  (The study appears in the May 2007 issue of the American Journal of Sociology.)  The resumes represented equally qualified applicants, but some resumes signalled that the applicant was a parent.  Here are the results:

Among the volunteers, mothers were consistently viewed as less competent and less committed and were held to higher performance and punctuality standards. They were 79 percent less likely to be hired and, if hired, would be offered a starting salary $11,000 lower than nonmothers. Fathers, by contrast, were offered the highest salaries of all. Meanwhile, in the test run with real-world employers, the hypothetical female applicants without children were more than twice as likely as equally qualified mothers to be called back for interviews.

Second, the article notes that "more than half [of these cases] have prevailed in court -- a success rate significantly higher than that of more conventional employment-discrimination cases, which is below 20 percent."  I am assuming that these success rates are of filed cases, so they include dispositions by motions to dismiss, summary judgment, settlment and trials, although I'm not sure.  Let's assume that a parent discrimination case has a much better success rate in front of a jury than a gender discrimination case.  Why would that be?  I can think of a few factors.  While only a certain percentage of jurors may be women, or working women, all have parents and most probably are parents.  So, it would be hard to seat a jury without sympathetic jurors.  Also, one-fourth of these plaintiffs are male, presumably male fathers.  If the Cognitive Bias Work Study Group's work holds up, then jurors would be subject to the same biases as the volunteers/employers and consider the working fathers' claims as credible and important.  They might also consider the lost wages/employment of the working father to be much more in need of a remedy.  Other thoughts?

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July 25, 2007
Academic Conferences & Gender
Posted by Christine Hurt

A few weeks ago, Eugene Volokh addressed complaints about the paucity of women panelists at a recent Federalist Society conference.  I responded to one explanation that was related to citation counts and promised to address the topic of gender and conferences generally at a later time.  Well, it is later. . . .

I have often defended blogging as the great academic equalizer by noting that women law professors (or I should say parenting law professors) may find it easier to balance blogging with home life than traveling for conferences.  I have responded to critics of time-intensive blogging that networking through blogging may be a substitute for networking through conferences, which can be costly in terms of time and money.  (This Spring I had a babysitter stay with our kids Friday afternoon through Sunday afternoon while Paul and I were at different conferences the same weekend -- not cheap.) 

Perhaps because of the demographics of my field (corporate law), I often go to conferences where women law professors are in the minority.  Last year in fact I was the sole female panelist at a day-long conference with 10 or so speakers.  I've really gotten to where I don't notice much any more.  I was talking about this with some other female corporate law professors, who have decided that when asked to speak at a conference, they also make suggestions of other possible female speakers to be invited (to counteract any network effects similar to the ones that Eugene discussed).  However, I know at my almost all-male conference, many speakers suggested two other female professors who wrote in the field, and they declined.  So, my question to readers is whether women law professors feel that they must pick and choose their conferences more so than their counterparts due to child care responsibilities or other work/life issues.

Obviously, pregnancy takes a female law professor out of conference rotation for at least a month or so before the birth and several afterwards, depending on nursing decisions, etc.  As one of several female law professors I know who took a baby to the meat market, I can attest to doing some wacky things to keep up a travel schedule and be the mother of small children!  My mother-in-law, who lives nowhere near us, is often the one who drives hours to meet me at an airport to take the children while I conference for a few days.  However, blogging is much easier, and more invisible than attending conferences.  Why I could be eight months pregnant right now, and you would never know.

Finally, maybe David or Gordon could tell us what they think the gender mix is in Berlin right now.  Law & Society is usually a fairly diverse conference, but I don't know that many women law professors who were planning on going to Berlin this year. 

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July 10, 2007
Gender Differences in Conference Speakers, Citation Counts, and Harvard Law Review Placements
Posted by Christine Hurt

Apparently while we were enjoying the Conglomerate Junior Scholars Workshop yesterday, a conversation was brewing in the blogosphere about the paucity of female panelists at a recent Federalist Society conference Eric Muller and Mary Dudziak are upset; Ilya Somin and Eugene Volokh are not.  Eugene follows up today with some statistics that show that although the panels aren't representative of the percentage of either untenured female professors or tenured female professors, the panels are fairly representative of those with the highest citation counts, which would tend to absolve conference organizers who have to use rough proxies to spot scholars in particular fields.  He then asks why the citation counts might ignore female scholars and offers up some theories.

Eugene's post on citation counts reminded me that two years ago I blogged on the number of women article authors in the Harvard Law Review.  One of the reasons we scholars like to get placements in top, top journals is that we think (or at least we say) that more people will read the article, and possibly cite to the artice.  So, the citation count data may be tied somewhat to the authors in the top journals.  If women are underrepresented in the top journals, then they will be cited less, etc.  In 2005, I surveyed the tables of contents of Volume 116 and 117 of the Harvard Law Review and found that female authors were markedly underrepresented.  This morning, I scanned the tables of contents in Volumes 118, 119 and 120 and found the same results.  (As David Brancacccio says, but more about that, after the numbers.)

In Volume 116, the HLR published pieces by 26 authors, including "in memoriam" pieces and book reviews"; 6 of these authors are women.  (23%).  Excluding all pieces except articles, women make up 5 out of 19 authors (26%).  In Volume 117, six women authors were published out of 28 authors (21%); three women article authors were published out of 19 article authors (15%).

This pattern persists and even worsens in the last three volumes as well.  (I did not count "in memoriam" pieces this time.)  In Volume 118, four women authors were published out of 30 authors (13%); three women article authors were published out of 24 article authors (12.5%).  In Volume 119, four women authors were published out of 33 authors (12%); 3 women article authors were published out of 23 article authors (13%).  In Volume 120, six women authors were published out of 35 authors (17%); six women article authors were published out of 32 authors (18.75%).  Note:  Volume 120 is a little different because Issue 5 was dedicated to Judge Richard Posner and contained pieces by 15 authors (two of whom are women).  These pieces are probably not article -length and I assume were solicited.  Excluding Issue 5, Volume 120 contains 17 article authors, 4 of whom are women (23.5%).

Therefore, in the last five volumes (31 issues, excluding Vol. 120, Issue 5) of the HLR, 18 out of 102 article authors were women (17.64%).  Note:  Out of the pool of 18 women authors, only 17 are unique.  One author, Martha Minow, was published twice (three times if we count Vol. 120, Issue 5).  There were also several male authors who published more than once during this period.  In addition, 4 of the 17 women (and one student author) were untenured at the time of publication.  I note this because as Eugene states, about 25% of full professors are women.

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July 05, 2007
Testosterone Economics
Posted by Fred Tung

Tyler Cowan at MR reports on an Economist report on an ultimatum game study associating rejection behavior with testosterone levels.  Is this why men never ask for directions?

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June 28, 2007
Tribute to Liz Claiborne
Posted by Christine Hurt

The NYT and other newspapers today are printing tributes to Liz Claiborne, who died yesterday at 78.  I will always associate Liz Claiborne clothing with the 1980s, where at least in my hometown, such clothing was very popular.  And even if you think the main brand may not be extremely chic, the company also owns Lucky Jeans, Juicy Couture and Kate Spade brands.  The obituaries point out that Liz Claiborne, Inc. was the first company founded by a woman to break the Fortune 500. 

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