Friday, May 22, 2020
Harvard Law Record, Shattering Harvard Law School’s Glass Ceilings:
For five consecutive years, the Women’s Law Association (WLA) has published a statistical analysis of Latin Honors and gender at Harvard Law School. For all five years, that study has found a statistically significant difference between the number of men and women graduating with Latin Honors, as compared to the expected numbers based on the gender breakdown of each class.
Women in the Class of 2015 received only 36.9% of Latin Honors awarded. For the Class of 2016, women received 43.2% of the awards. In 2017, the number decreased to 41.7%. For the Class of 2018, this number decreased again to 39.7%. Last year, women received 44.5% of the Latin Honors awards for the Class of 2019. This means that 45.6% of the men in the class of 2019 received Latin Honors, compared to only 34.1% of women. This is not the kind of improvement we would have hoped to see over a five-year period, especially one in which massive strides have been made for equity elsewhere on campus.
In stark contrast to the persistent Latin Honors gender gap, the past five years have seen three of HLS’ most prominent by-application student organizations – Harvard Legal Aid Bureau, Board of Student Advisors, and Harvard Law Review – achieve gender parity. All three organizations have even had majority female membership at times. This is the kind of progress that we would have hoped to see for Latin Honors disparities. ...
In light of the administration’s failure to investigate the ongoing lack of gender parity at HLS and in celebration of its 50th anniversary, the WLA launched its own study of gender equity and inclusivity at HLS this year. The WLA is conducting the survey to broaden the understanding of the different ways in which people of all genders experience the law school. Given that it has been over fifteen years since a comprehensive study of this kind was conducted, an updated study on the student body is crucial for determining what factors improve or inhibit the success of women at HLS.