More on Gender and the Harvard Law Review:
Over at The Conglomerate, Christine Hurt is looking into why recent Volumes of the Harvard Law Review have mostly published the works of male authors. One obvious trend in the HLR's publication track, Christine notes, is the very strong preference for articles in constitutional law:
Given the roughly equal numbers of female to male assistant professors, I would suspect that law reviews receive an equal number of papers authored by men and women. So, does a ConLaw bias have gender effects? Or a bias toward well-known, established authors? These numbers roughly correlate with the percentage of female full professors.
  That raises an interesting question — do law reviews receive a roughly equal number of papers authored by men and women? Christine assumes so, but I am less sure. I remember my reaction when I first saw Brian Leiter's 2002 list of the most-cited law professors who entered teaching since 1992: to my surprise, every one of the top 20 most cited professors in that list is male. There are a number of possible explanations for that rather troubling (at least to me) result, but one might be a difference between the sheer number of submissions from men and women, either generally or in the smaller category of more prolific academics.

  VC readers, what are your thoughts? I would be particularly interested to hear from former or current articles editors who may remember (or remember the absence of) any such trend. As always, civil and respectful comments only.

Related Posts (on one page):

  1. More on Gender and the Harvard Law Review:
  2. Race, Gender, and the Harvard Law Review:
Felix (mail):
I was an articles editor only a few year ago, and though I could not give you exact numbers, there definitely was no gender equality in article submissions -- there were significantly more submissions authored by men.
5.19.2005 3:01pm
Scipio (mail) (www):
I was on the editorial board of a niche journal when I was in law school, and we had a number of submissions, but only one from a female author.
5.19.2005 3:17pm
Adam Sofen (mail):
I agree with Felix. I sat on the Essays Committee of The Yale Law Journal this year, and the bulk of our submissions appeared to come from men -- not just in con law but in all specialties.

In Volume 114 of YLJ, which concluded in May, 11 of 13 articles and essays (i.e., nonsolicited professional pieces) were written by men.

More disturbing is the trend in Notes and Comments -- which are student-written pieces and, therefore, evaluated completely anonymously until the moment of acceptance. Of the Notes, 10 of 13 were written by men; of Comments, 9 of 11 were by men.

(Comments can only be submitted by Journal members, of whom about 60% are men. Notes, though, can be submitted by any student.)
5.19.2005 3:21pm
Gerry Ford:
Yale Law Journal, several years ago -- not even close -- submissions by men outnumbered submissions by women maybe 3 to 1 -- just a rough estimate.
5.19.2005 4:09pm
frankcross (mail):
Yes, Christine should know that you can't draw conclusions about disparate impact without knowing the makeup of the applicant pool.

If women are submitting less, though, that's problematic. Perhaps Christine has insight here.
5.19.2005 4:10pm
Duncan Frissell (mail):
Why do you find the fact the men and women are (statistically) significantly different troubling? I would be more troubled were they the same.

There was a similar complaint at the start of 2004 about 3/4 of the books reviewed by the NYT being by men. I determined that 3/4 of the Amazon 100 were written by men so there was nothing unusual about the NYT outcome.

See here:
5.19.2005 4:13pm
Current Editor:
I am currently an editor at a top 20 journal, and I really think more men submit than women. I would guess most editors do not see all 1500 articles their school receives, however, so its hard for me to see how people could make informed claims about actual percentages.
5.19.2005 4:15pm
adam (mail) (www):
Duncan, don't confuse cause and effect: being reviewing in the NYT is what helps you *make* best-seller lists. It's a huge source of legitimacy and publicity.
5.19.2005 5:03pm
Current Editor:
Are most members of most article offices men?
That might account for being drawn to masculine styles of writing (if there is such a thing).
5.19.2005 5:25pm
former articles ed.:
Just took a sample of my submissions database from our last volume (of a top-tier journal), and of 200 submissions sample (out of 1956 total), 72 appeared to be by women (at least based on names). The ratio among expedite requests looks roughly the same (33 out of a sample of 100 were women).

So if that holds up, there's certainly a skew in the authorship on the order of 2:1.

But not nearly as big a skew as what we ended up publishing. Of the articles and essays in our volume, about a fifth are by women. (My guess is that book reviews are at least as skewed; so are notes, despite a membership around 55/45 m/f.)

I confess that, until I read this post, I had never thought about this, and I find it puzzling. Much of it, I think, is probably a bias in favor of senior scholars, where there's still plenty of gender disparity. In fact, if you subtract the senior-authored pieces from our volume, the ratio of junior-authored pieces is exactly 2:1, which tracks the submissions pool. All of the senior-authored pieces were by men, but sample size here is getting a bit small for generalizations (and we certainly made plenty of offers to senior women authors that got shopped up, though I don't have records handy from which to quantify). Still, I find it odd and disturbing that there's such a skew in the submissions pool, which certainly doesn't look dominated by senior scholars (although again, I can't easily quantify that).

Would be nice if, someday soon, law review article selection were to adopt the norms of most of the rest of the scholarly world, among which is blind review. Not suggesting that only bias in selction can explain these numbers, but it'd be nice to rule it out.
5.19.2005 7:26pm
Laura A. Heymann (mail):
With the understanding that the question is whether men and women submit articles equally (not whether they are accepted equally), I think a large part of the answer is provided by Zofia Smardz, an editor for the Washington Post (Zofia Smardz, "Just Give It a Shot, Girls," Washington Post, Mar. 27, 2005), who noted a gender disparity in the number of editorials submitted for Outlook (WaPo's Sunday op/ed section).

Smardz paraphrases a neuropsychiatrist she's worked with: "Think of a man as carrying a quiverful of arrows. When he spies a target, he lets fly with the whole caboodle. Most of his arrows will miss the bull's-eye, but one is likely to hit. And that's the one people will remember -- and applaud. A woman, though, proceeds slowly and considers carefully. Only when she's pretty sure she has a perfect shot does she send off a single arrow. And she hits the mark! Amazing! But . . . too bad. The guy's already walked off with the prize."

My instinct (based only on anecdote) is that this is largely accurate (and no doubt others besides this unnamed neuropsychiatrist have made the same point); of course, why it might be true (biology, sociology, psychology, etc.) I leave to others.
5.19.2005 8:05pm
Former Editor:
As an articles editor for a tech journal at a top-tier school, the vast majority of submissions were from males. Despite this disparity though, our published volumes would have about 2 female authors vs. 8 male authors. I would be interested to see the male/female breakdown between the different specialty journals as well.
5.19.2005 8:13pm
Current Editor:
Ha! Blind review won't come anytime soon...too many students would get published and not enough senior scholars. It's a bit of a bizarre system, having students essentially decide what professors get tenure through law review. Two years ago my school was scandalized by *accidentally* publishing a student article; but the joke of the matter is that it was the best article that year.

Of the untenured professors at my school, it's clear that the men tend to generate much more work. One female professor has worked carefully on one article all year, while a male cranks them out, while at the same time working on a book, writing amicus briefs, etc. What's the difference? For one thing, males tend to be much more amenable to working all the time and having no social life. I'm at the school most weekends, and I never seen a female professor there. They're probably having fun. But there are a few male professors who are always there. Their entire lives are work.

For what it's worth, I'm a female student and I plan to work as little as possible once I graduate. 1. I need to make up for these three years of hell, and 2. Sitting on my ass going blind staring at my computer all day is not the way I want to spend every waking minute of my life. While a healthy majority of students of both genders share my attitude, the masochists who DO enjoy a life of all work and no play are overwhelmingly men.
5.19.2005 10:44pm
A Blogger:
I think Smardz is on to something, but her description is a bit off. A more accurate analogy would be that lots of guys are completely obsessed with hunting -- it's all they think about -- whereas few women are. It's not that women's efforts are on average higher quality than men's; it's just that men put a lot more effort into it. Young male academics on average spend a lot more time working, which leads to a lot more output, which leads to more prestigious placements.
5.20.2005 2:19am
Anonymous (mail) (www):
In response to Current Editor's question, and simply for informational purposes, this year's nine-person Harvard Law Review articles committee consists of nine men and zero women.
5.20.2005 9:38am
heybub (mail):
Not surprising. Organizations predominately male (church, military, Shriners, politics) are more concerned with process, pomp, regalia, tradtion, heirarchy, and the like have than those made up of women. The reverse is also true: entities where these attributes are required attract more men than women. It is fair to say that process-oriented endeavors attract men, result-driven projects attract women.
5.20.2005 10:40am
Felix (mail):
In answer to Current Editor's question, I was one of 3 male articles editors out of a total of 5. The previous year, it was 3 females to 2 males, and the year after me it was back to 3 males to 2 females.
5.20.2005 10:40am
Frank Snyder (mail):
An odd disparity is that people download papers by men more than they download papers by women. In contract/commercial law, for example, of the 32 authors listed on the top 20 most-downloaded articles of all time, only three are women. It would be interesting to see the count of papers submitted to SSRN by sex. Has anyone done a count?
5.20.2005 12:05pm
Michael E. Lopez (mail) (www):
I was an articles editor on the UCLA Law review about 4 years ago. By far the majority of 120+ submissions that I can recall doing primary review on were written by men. I wasn't selecting articles to review based on their authors, <b>but on their titles</b>. If the title seemed to be about something interesting, I gave it a look. If it was "Clever Title: Followed by long winded and boring explanation that included mention of race and/or gender issues" I let it sit on the shelf for someone else.

Maybe men have better titles?

Our department was 5 people — 2 women and 3 men. In the entire year, we published <b>3</b> actual articles by women: one was a co-authored piece (with a man) and one was a response to another piece we published in the same issue. That's out of 13 substantial articles and 2 written lectures, or 20%.

In our Symposium issue (which I was not counting in the above statistics) we had 2 females out of 13 writers. Even "worse".

But here's the interesting data:

4 out of 12 published comments were by women, and the comments department was almost entirely female. HOWEVER... this is NOT consistent with the data about professors because the majority of people on Law Review itself (which was decided entirely by a write on) were, as I recall, women. Assuming my recall is correct, that means that a majority of the comments reviewed by the comments department were by women. Yet they selected men over women 2 to 1.

Maybe it really is all about the titles.
5.20.2005 12:57pm
In response to "current editor," I think many younger male scholars are more prolific than many younger female scholars, but I can promise you that it's not because the girls are all out having fun. Sorry, no. If only. We're taking care of our kids while our husbands... uh, I don't quite know what they do, but it's not a whole lot of childcare. Our male colleagues seem mostly to have stay-at-home wives. Good thinking, guys! I wish I had one too! So they're writing while the gals take care of the kids.
5.20.2005 5:02pm
At least one of the professors on Leiter's list, Tracey Meares (tied for 44th), is female.
5.20.2005 8:01pm