Saturday, January 20, 2007

Law Prof Diversity, Hiring, and Tenure

Do women or non-Caucasian minorities have trouble winning tenure at U.S. law schools? Prof. Harrison worries that class biases might make the tenure review process especially difficult for such professors. As he observes, we for present lack very solid data on that front. But we have got pretty good data about how well women and non-Caucasian minorities do at winning academic jobs at law schools—a necessary prerequisite to winning tenure. That data suggests that, at least in terms of hiring, women and minorities enjoy significant advantages.

For the last fourteen hiring seasons, the American Association of Law Schools (AALS) has collected data about how well the candidates listed in its Faculty Appointments Register did at finding academic jobs with law schools. (Presumably, those candidates got hired, if they did, after being interviewed at the AALS's annual Faculty Recruitment Conference, colloquially known as the "Meat Market.") The AALS has published that data in table form in its Statistical Report on Law School Faculty and Candidates for Law Faculty Positions (2005-06). I here recreate select portions of that data graphically, so as to better illustrate the relative success of women and non-Caucasian minorities.

This chart, using data from Table 13B of the Statistical Report, shows how well women have fared relative to men at landing jobs via the AALS faculty recruitment process:

This chart, using data from Table 13C, shows how well minorities have fared relative to non-minorities:

For a summary of how various types of candidates have done, on average, over the last 14 hiring seasons, consider this data, from Table 13E of the Statistical Report:

Candidate Type Success Rate (%)
Minority Women 18.5
Minority Men 17.5
Non-Minority Women 15.0
Non-Minority Men 11.3

I could say a lot more about this data, adding caveats and analyses. I've written about the topic several times before, though, and don't want to tax anyone's patience by repeating myself. For some more recent blogging about the American Bar Association's causal role in these observed hiring trends, see Gail Harriot's recent series of posts.

I'll just say this, for now: Having gone through the meat market process three times, and having served for many years on my school's Appointments Committee, I find the relative success of males and non-minorities in the mid-to-late-90s the only surprising thing in the above data. Perhaps we can explain that divergence from the normal hiring pattern as an effect of the relatively tight job market in that era. Note, after all, that the percentage of all candidates hired, regardless of their sex, race, or ethnicity, hit all time lows around that time.

[Crossposted to Agoraphilia.]


Anonymous Anonymous said...

One point that I'm sure has been made elsewhere: does this analysis take into account the fact that many more unqualified or less qualified non-minority males go on the market than women or minorities? In other words, since the barriers to even going on the market are greater for women and minorities, and there are far more non-minority males going on the market, doesn't that skew the results significantly?

1/20/2007 6:23 PM  
Blogger Tom W. Bell said...

Anon: I'm not aware of data establishing what you assert as a fact. I should think, furthermore, that anybody considering a go at the Meat Market would consider not only costs, which may or may not be lower for non-minority male candidates, but also benefits, which pretty plainly *do* look to be lower for non-minority male candidates.

But, at any rate, the AALS data does not appear to control for credentials. It treats everybody in the FAR directory equally so far as success or failure goes.

1/20/2007 10:46 PM  
Blogger Nancy Rapoport said...

Tom, Debby Merritt of Ohio State has done a lot of interesting work in this area (see, e.g., I think you'd enjoy her articles.

1/21/2007 8:06 AM  
Blogger Jeff Harrison said...

Actually the data are consistent with (although not directly on point) my hypothesis and the opinions expressed by those responding to my Class, Race and Diversity: A Follow-up poll. The general view was that once a teaching position is achieved, the standards for tenure are close to equal across the board.

1/21/2007 12:01 PM  
Blogger Tom W. Bell said...

Thanks, Nancy, for the cite to Prof. Merritt's work. Thinking that our readers might find it interesting, too, I here offer the abstract of her article, "Scholarly Influence in a Diverse Legal Academy: Race, Sex, and Citation Counts":

"This article explores sex and race differences in scholarly influence by examining citation counts for all 815 professors who began tenure-track positions at accredited U.S. law schools between 1986 and 1991 and who remained on the tenure track in fall 1998. White men averaged significantly more citations than did women and minorities. The differences, however, were modest. Controlling for biographical variables through a series of regression equations, moreover, eliminated the citation gap between white men and both white and minority women, while substantially reducing the gap for minority men. The analyses suggest that most sex and race differences in citation counts are associated with differences in educational background, prestige of the institution at which a professor teaches, teaching assignments, and similar factors. As these differences diminish, already modest gaps in citation counts should decline as well."

Her SSRN page does not permit us to download copies of the work, but it's available via JSTOR.

1/21/2007 12:03 PM  
Anonymous Angel M. said...

I agree with the anonymous poster. There are probably more "less qualified" non-minority males going to the Meet Market. Minorities and women, in order to even compete, have to overcome a lot of barriers, so you probably aren't going to get many women and minorities without a HYS (or top 10) law degree.

I recall from my law school days an African-American "Ivy law" top 10 law grad, on law review, published student note--but with no clerkship--interviewed for an assistant prof. position at my school. Amazingly, some of the faculty there who were not top 10 or Ivy league law school grads, and who never clerked--on a state or federal level--wanted to block the candidate from being hired because the candidate hadn't been a law clerk at all. They just didn't want this person there, even though many of these individuals weren't law clerks either. However, they ended up making the candidate an offer because these same hypocrites really wanted this person's spouse to join the faculty (the spouse did have ALL of the right credentials, and was non-minority).

I'm now a VP/GC at my Fortune 500 corporation (and yes, I am a minority), and I think it's "easier" for women and minorities to be succesful in corporate america than in academia. Just my opinion.

It would be hard for me to advise a stellar minority candidate to go into academia, not necessarily because of my chosen career path, but because of what I've seen my colleagues and contemporaries go through in academia.

Great blog, though.

1/21/2007 12:09 PM  
Blogger Orin said...

I was under the impression that these AALS stats included both tenure-track and non-tenure-track jobs. Is that wrong?

When I last looked at this, my recollection suggests, the AAL was planning on releasing stats on just tenure-track jobs but (at least at the time, about a year ago) hadn't done it yet.

1/21/2007 12:41 PM  
Blogger Tom W. Bell said...

Angel M.: Thanks for your reflections, and your kind words about MoneyLaw. You and Anon. may well be right, I grant, but I'd rather withhold judgement absent a systemic study. I am, however, quite willing to agree with you that business folks do (because they must) tend to reward results more than mere credentials, paper or otherwise.

Orin: That's right, and one of the several caveats I declined to get into. The AALS did publish an interesting study about the tenure process and how various categories of candidates fared.

1/21/2007 6:05 PM  
Blogger Ann Bartow said...

Tom, Orin's point is an important one, because women are disproportionately hired for nontenure track jobs, which undermines your claim that women "succeed" at higher rates than men, if success means landing tenure track job. See e.g. this:

1/25/2007 9:44 AM  
Blogger Tom W. Bell said...

Ann: You and Orin raise an important qualification to the data, one of many that I've noted. I thus did not make any claims about what the data shows about success in winning tenure. I said only "[t]hat [the AALS] data suggests that, at least in terms of hiring, women and minorities enjoy significant advantages." That's quite a different thing from a bald statement that women and minorities *do* enjoy significant advantages, much less that they win tenure more readily than their counterparts.

What *is* going on? The full story, as you and I both recognize, calls for more data and careful analysis.

1/26/2007 4:09 PM  
Anonymous Corey Rayburn Yung said...

Tom, I recognize that you are not making strong claims about the data, but I think you are still either misunderstanding or mis-stating Ann and Orin's point. They are NOT saying that women do worse at winning tenure (that would be a separate objection). They are saying that the AALS numbers include tenure and non-tenure-track positions. A lot of the "success" for women is in getting non-tenure-track positions. And that "success" is clearly different if women are still succeeding at a lower rate for tenure-track positions. As a result, the AALS data is of little value in identifying differential success for men and women because it treats dissimilar jobs similarly.

1/26/2007 4:40 PM  
Blogger Tom W. Bell said...

Corey, You're right; I did probably fail to emphasize what Ann and Orin *really* care about: that the AALS data treats all legal academic jobs, tenure-track or otherwise, equally. The fact that certain candidates may tend to get tenure less often perhaps follows as a consequence, but that's not the most salient concern, here. Rather, the concern is that the AALS data at-hand might suggest something it does not, in fact, prove. Thanks for helping to clarify that.

1/28/2007 1:37 PM  
Anonymous Lee Harris said...

I'm a relatively new professor, but I have been to the meat market a couple of times as a member of a Recruitment team and have on both occasions gone through all the resumes. From that experience, it seems to me that the women and minority applicants were usually significantly more qualified, credential-wise, than other applicants. Accordingly, as another person posted, I can't help but believe the rate of hire statistics is probably explained by credentials and nothing more. I'm happy to hear other experiences from others who have served on appointments committees on this point.

1/30/2007 3:03 PM  
Blogger Meme chose said...

I find the relative success of males and non-minorities in the mid-to-late-90s the only surprising thing in the above data... Note, after all, that the percentage of all candidates hired, regardless of their sex, race, or ethnicity, hit all time lows around that time.

Let's not neglect the obvious. What it suggests to me is that throughout the whole period some portion of the female and diversity hires has been treated as a luxury good. When money was suddenly tight they turned out to be less affordable.

2/19/2007 11:34 PM  
Blogger Tom W. Bell said...

Lee Harris: Almost *all* the candidates in the Far impress me, these days. It seems that their academic credentials have generally improved in recent years. But I'm wary of relying on such mere impressions. It would not be difficult to collect data about the correlations, if any, between candidates' academic credentials and their sex or race. But, as you can see in one of my later posts, the AALS rebuffed my attempt to collect that data.

Meme Chose: Peut etre. Moi, je ne sais pas.

2/20/2007 12:07 PM  

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