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Is Law Review Selection Biased -- Or Do Fewer Women Submit?

Over at Volokh, conspirator Orin Kerr revisits the question of gender bias in article publication in top law journals. Kerr references a recent draft article by Professor Minna Kotkin which concludes that "a disproportionate number of selected articles were authored by men" and that journals must reexamine their selection processes to eliminate any bias when it comes to choosing articles for publication.

Kerr, however, believes that there's an innocent explanation for much of this: It's not that editors harbor bias against female-edited articles, but rather that fewer women than men submit articles to begin with. Kerr cites the submissions database from a top journal and notes that of 200 articles submitted, only 72 were by women.

Dan Markel raises similar views at Prawfs Blawg. He says that without consideration of the number of articles actually submitted by women, it is impossible to know whether law reviews are accepting articles at rates greater or lower than the numbers submitted by women. In short, while Markel acknowledges that there is a gap in submissions, he contends that it's difficult to say why, or to assume that the problem lies in selection.

I'm not sure if law professors have noticed it, but the "publication gap" extends to law professor blogs as well. Of the top law professor blogs as listed here, only one -- Professor Althouse -- is authored by a woman. Even marquis collective blogs like Volokh and Concurring Opinions are lead by and predominantly comprised of men. Does that mean that the entire blogosphere is discriminating against women prof law bloggers? Of course not. It's just that there are fewer female law professors blogging than men. Just as, most likely, there are fewer female professors writing and submitting journal articles than men. 

Posted by Carolyn Elefant on August 20, 2008 at 12:33 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

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