21 Pages Posted: 10 Jun 2015
Date Written: June 9, 2015
Social science research on gender in the legal system has largely focused on the woman as the "other." This research has looked for ways in which women judge or are judged differently from the norm. The results of this line of research have been mixed. Male-centered theories of masculinity and chivalry provide promising tools to help researchers understand the contribution that maleness has on outcomes in the legal system. Immigration appeals provide an ideal test of these theories, which predict that male judges will be harder on male immigrants and easier on female litigants than will female judges. In this paper, we implement a research design that takes seriously both female-centric and male-centric explanations of decision outcomes. Using an original database of immigration appeals in the U.S. Courts of Appeal, we find evidence to support the research of maleness on its own terms. We find that elements of chivalry and masculinity theory both operate to frame the decisions made by male judges. The introduction of women on the panel of judges is associated with significant changes in the relative success of male and female petitioners, but not in a way that is consistent with theories of women judges as representatives. In addition to providing support for masculinity theory to explain the behavior of male judges, our data raise new questions about how females temper the reaction of mixed-gender panels toward male and female parties in court.
Keywords: judicial decision making, immigration appeals, gender, panel effects
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation
Gill, Rebecca D. and Kagan, Michael and Marouf, Fatma E., Chivalry, Masculinity, and the Importance of Maleness to Judicial Decision Making (June 9, 2015). UNLV William S. Boyd School of Law Legal Studies Research Paper. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2616502