The Disappearance that Wasn't? 'Random Variation' in the Number of Women Supreme Court Clerks

Jurimetrics: The Journal of Law, Science, and Technology, Vol. 48, No. 4, pp. 457-463, Summer 2008

7 Pages Posted: 2 Sep 2008

See all articles by David H. Kaye

David H. Kaye

Pennsylvania State University, Penn State Law; Arizona State University - Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law - School of Life Science

Joseph L. Gastwirth

George Washington University - Columbian College of Arts and Sciences

Date Written: August 16, 2008

Abstract

In the world of American law, a Supreme Court clerkship is a position desired by many but attained by few. In the summer of 2006, news reports revealed that only seven out of the 37 clerks hired - a mere 19 percent - were women. This outcome represented a dramatic 50 percent drop from preceding years. Yet, two Justices portrayed the change as the result of "random variation," a claim that struck many observers at the time as incredible. This essay applies standard statistical reasoning to analyze what the dip in 2006 might indicate. We show that the year's decline in women, considered as one point in a time series, was not so improbable after all.

Keywords: Supreme Court clerks, employment, women, gender discrimination, time series, reversion to the mean

JEL Classification: C40

Suggested Citation

Kaye, David H. and Gastwirth, Joseph L., The Disappearance that Wasn't? 'Random Variation' in the Number of Women Supreme Court Clerks (August 16, 2008). Jurimetrics: The Journal of Law, Science, and Technology, Vol. 48, No. 4, pp. 457-463, Summer 2008. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1231263

David H. Kaye (Contact Author)

Pennsylvania State University, Penn State Law ( email )

University Park, PA 16802
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.personal.psu.edu/dhk3/index.htm

Arizona State University - Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law - School of Life Science ( email )

111 E Taylor St.
Phoenix, AZ 85004
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.personal.psu.edu/dhk3/index.htm

Joseph L. Gastwirth

George Washington University - Columbian College of Arts and Sciences ( email )

Washington, DC 20052
United States
202-994-6458 (Phone)
202-994-6917 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.gwu.edu/~stat/gastwirth.html

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