Tuesday, April 24, 2012
Yale Daily News, Law School Battles Gender Imbalance:
Men are 16% more likely to speak in class than women in Yale Law School courses, according findings in a study released by a Law School student group last week.
The group, Yale Law Women, replicated a study of gender dynamics it conducted at the school in 2002. The 93-page study — which included interviews with 54 of 83 non-visiting faculty members, observations of student participation in 113 sessions of 21 Law School courses and a survey of 62 percent of the student body — found that women are 1.5% more likely to speak up in class now than they were 10 years ago, among several other observations. The majority of students and faculty interviewed by the News said gender imbalances are an endemic problem in the legal profession and are not unique to the Law School, though many were disappointed by the lack of substantial improvement over the decade.
“What we found is that participation by women in the classroom has improved, but the rate is very slow,” said Fran Faircloth LAW ’12, a Yale Law Women co-chair for the study. “If we continue at the same rate, the gender gap won’t close until 2083.”
The report, titled Yale Law School Faculty and Students Speak Up about Gender: Ten Years Later, assesses students’ interactions with faculty both in and out of the classroom, and compiled recommendations on how to minimize gender differences in the Law School community based on survey and interview responses. Recommendations to faculty include practicing more “conscientious classroom management” — for example, waiting for five seconds rather than calling on the first student to raise his or her hand — while recommendations to students include being more proactive in interacting with professors.
Law School professor Lea Brilmayer, who has taught at Yale “off and on” for 30 years after becoming one of the first female professors at the Law School, said she found the study depressing because it contradicted her feeling that gender dynamics at the school have improved in recent years. Brilmayer pointed to several institutional changes she said contribute to her attitude, including the greater prevalence of women on the faculty, all of whom she described as “first-rate intellectual heavyweights.” For the 2011-’12 academic year, 22 out of 104 Yale Law School professors were women, according to the survey.
- Wall Street Journal Law Blog, Yale Law Study Finds Gender Imbalance in Student Participation