Still Not Behaving Like Gentlemen
38 Pages Posted: 1 Jul 2004
The author reflects upon the genesis of a law school project with Lani Guinier that ultimately resulted in the publication of a law review article entitled Becoming Gentlemen: Women's Experiences at One Ivy League Law School, and later a book, Becoming Gentlemen: Women, Law School, and Institutional Change. I discuss an apparent dearth of positive, substantive changes in legal education over the past eleven years, noting that women apparently continue to receive lower grades and fewer honors related to grades in top law schools. I also consider reactions to Becoming Gentlemen, and observe that to the extent it got everyone's attention, the role that Becoming Gentlemen played in exposing a concrete and quantifiable gender-linked accomplishment gap was useful and worthwhile. However, narrative based "soft data" are also important and may do a better job than the numbers of isolating specific causes of, and suggesting effective cures for, the gender gap.
I also assert that though I'm reluctant to embrace the hegemony of "hard data," the discourse on gender and legal education would benefit greatly from transparent and consistent disclosure of many categories of information. Law schools need to regularly compile and release accurate gender-keyed grade data, so that gender-based achievement gaps can be recognized and tracked. Information about bar passage and honorifics should be tabulated, and honest, straightforward, and frequently updated data about faculty composition should similarly be made available. When law schools are willing to release data in standardized form, law school applicants can make informed decisions about where they are more likely to feel comfortable and succeed, and even more critically, individuals administering and controlling law schools may be motivated to address challenges that the data illustrates. Interested legal educators from a wide range of viewpoints (and with a wide range of agendas) can (and no doubt will) disagree about what the data collections show, what they mean, and what, if anything, ought to be done about gender-related discrepancies, but at least regular doses of good information can establish a starting place from which to probe the limits of the problems, and to experiment with cures. Ulitimately I challenge every law school in the nation to compile, analyze and release (so that others can evaluate) accurate grade, honorofic, faculty composition, and placement data.
Keywords: gender, women, performance gap, law school, legal education
JEL Classification: K3, K4
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation