Of Authorship and Audacity: An Empirical Study of Gender Disparity and Privilege in the 'Top Ten' Law Reviews

Women's Rights Law Reporter, Vol. 31, p. 385, 2009-2010

Brooklyn Law School Legal Studies Research Paper

77 Pages Posted: 27 Jun 2008 Last revised: 20 Jul 2019

Date Written: July 13, 2009


In today’s law schools, article placement is a significant consideration in hiring, promotion, tenure, and lateral mobility. This article analyzes authorship by gender and home school “privilege” in 15 law reviews (the “top ten”) over a three year period. It compares these data with the gender composition of the professoriate and of the 15 schools’ faculties, using Association of American Law Schools and American Bar Association statistics. The mean percentage of articles authored by one or more women (and no men) is 20.4. Nationally, women comprise 31% of the tenured/tenure-track professoriate and 28.3% at the 15 schools. At the associate and assistant professor levels, the national figures are 46.8% and 53.9% respectively. At schools ranked 15 to 40, however, the percentage of women authors is greater than their representation in the professoriate, with a mean of 34%. As to privilege, 42% of authors come from US News top ten schools, 64% from the top 25, and 75% from the top 50, cumulatively.

The article considers a number of possible explanations for the gender disparity, including: years and subject matter of teaching; affirmative action; institutional and family commitments; and social science theories. At least as to the quantifiable hypotheses, none fully explains the disparity. The article concludes with the suggestion that editorial boards examine their selection processes for unconscious bias with regard to gender and conscious bias with regard to privilege and that they consider adopting true anonymous submissions. It also argues that some number of women academics do not pursue “audacity” techniques, such as aggressive expediting and soliciting endorsements, that may contribute to article placement in elite journals. Although the gender gap in hiring and promotion has largely been resolved, the top of the legal academic ladder will elude women until the gender disparity in publications is overcome.

Keywords: legal education, empirical, gender

Suggested Citation

Kotkin, Minna J., Of Authorship and Audacity: An Empirical Study of Gender Disparity and Privilege in the 'Top Ten' Law Reviews (July 13, 2009). Women's Rights Law Reporter, Vol. 31, p. 385, 2009-2010, Brooklyn Law School Legal Studies Research Paper, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1140644 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1140644

Minna J. Kotkin (Contact Author)

Brooklyn Law School ( email )

250 Joralemon Street
Brooklyn, NY 11201
United States

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