Paul L. Caron

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

LSSSE: New Research Provides Insight Into Women’s Experiences In Law School

LSSSE, New Research Provides Insight into Women’s Experiences in Law School:

LSSSENewly-released data by the Law School Survey of Student Engagement (LSSSE) provides a compelling look at women in law schools.  Data from this Report, The Cost of Women’s Success, draw from the responses of more than 18,000 students at 70 law schools who participated in the LSSSE Survey in 2019.

“It’s no surprise that women’s deep investment in their education results in strong relationships, high levels of satisfaction, and strong academic outcomes,” said Meera E. Deo, Director of LSSSE.  “But this success comes at a cost: women have very little time for socializing, physical activity, or sleep. Plus they graduate with significant debt burdens. Women law students contribute so much. We must do more to support them.”

Noteworthy findings from the report include:


Engagement in campus life is an especially significant indicator of success. Law students who are deeply invested in both classroom and extracurricular activities tend to maximize opportunities for success overall.

  • Just over half (51%) of women report frequently communicating with a faculty member via email compared to 40% of men. Black women (63%) are more likely to engage in frequent email contact with faculty than any other raceXgender group.
  • Women join and invest in student organizations at higher rates than their male counterparts.
  • Women and men engage in co-curricular activities at roughly equivalent rates, including moot court, pro-bono service, and law journals.
  • Smaller percentages of women than men are deeply engaged in the classroom. While 64% of men report that they frequently ask questions in class or contribute to class discussions, only 58% of women do. This gender disparity remains pronounced within every racial/ethnic group, as men participate in class at higher rates than women from their same background.

Grades and Test Scores

  • Women report lower LSAT scores than men, even when comparing within racial/ethnic groups. While 21% of men report LSAT scores in the highest range of 161 or above, only 16% of women report similar achievement on this exam.
  • Conversely, higher percentages of women than men enter law school with undergraduate grade point averages (UGPAs) in the top range. A full 51% of women report UGPAs of 3.5 and above as compared to only 40% of their male classmates.
  • Women report slightly higher overall law school grades than men.


  • Higher percentages of women than men incur significant levels of debt in law school. Among those who expect to graduate from law school with over $160,000 in debt are 19% of women and 14% of men. This gender difference remains constant within every racial/ethnic group.
  • Even more alarming is the disparity among those carrying the highest debt loads: 7.9% of women will graduate from law school owing over $200,000 as compared to 5.5% of men.
  • Women of color are graduating with extreme debt burdens. A full 14% of Black women and 16% of Latinas borrow over $200,000 to attend law school, compared to 7.3% of Black men and 12% of Latinos (and only 4.3% of White men and 5.5% of White women).

Women are less likely than men to engage in important important social, leisure and self-care activities.

  • Women law students find little time for fitness, with 74% reporting they exercise no more than 5 hours per week, compared to 60% of men.
  • More than half (53%) of women report spending 5 or fewer hours per week engaged in any social activities, compared to just over a third (38%) of men.
  • Half (51%) of women report sleeping five or fewer hours per night, along with 43% of men.

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