Wednesday, October 20, 2021

2019 Annual Survey The Cost of Women's Success, Law School Survey of Student Engagement

Law School Survey of Student Engagement, 2019 Annual Survey: The Cost of Women's Success

Meera Deo, Director's Message:

It is with great pride and pleasure that I share the 2019 Annual Results, which is the first LSSSE publication dedicated to gender. To date, few researchers have studied the background of women entering legal education, their success in law school, or the barriers that women law students overcome. *** 

 

Past Annual Results have highlighted similarities and differences based on gender, with regard to debt load, scholarships, and career expectations/preferences, to name just a few. Yet, this LSSSE publication devoted entirely to gender arrives at an opportune time. With increasing numbers of women in law school, policymakers and the general public might assume that gender is a non-issue, that the experiences of women and men are roughly the same, or that gender disparities are a thing of the past. Regrettably, LSSSE data confirm that none of these myths represent the current state of women in legal education. As with faculty diversity, increased numbers do not translate directly into improved experiences.***

 

Overall, this report reveals that women as a whole are succeeding along various metrics ranging from academic performance to student engagement. These achievements are especially impressive given the background demographics of women law students today, many of whom enter law school with fewer resources than their male classmates. In spite of these accomplishments, there is room for improvement. Especially given how hard women law students work and the sacrifices they make to excel, we owe them greater support.

 

Foreword, Deborah Jones Merrit

Why do gender differences in legal education persist? Scholars often point to women’s heavier family responsibilities. This LSSSE report, however, undercuts that explanation. Eleven percent of women law students report that they spend more than 20 hours a week caring for dependents—but so do 8.6% of men students. Family commitments may explain some of the gender gap in legal education, but they do not tell the whole story.

 

Instead, as this report suggests, law schools must question their own practices. Do admissions offices place too much weight on LSAT scores (which favor men) rather than undergraduate grades (which favor women)? Do women receive as much scholarship money as men? Do traditional classroom pedagogies discourage women’s participation? Do institutional support measures target men more effectively than women? More transparent data could help answer some of these questions.

 

Gathering data and addressing these questions would benefit women of all races and ethnicities; the gender gaps identified in this report cut across those lines. Promoting gender equity could also help law schools attract and support first-generation students. As this report notes, women currently outnumber men in that category.
Despite their burdens, women achieve marked success in law school. Among LSSSE respondents, women’s reported grades exceed those of men overall—as well as within each racial or ethnic group. Four-fifths of women, moreover, rate their law school experience as “Good” or “Excellent.” These outcomes are worth celebrating, but they do not guarantee gender equity. Law schools must build on their progress to give women the same economic opportunities as men and to make them fully at home in the classroom.

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/gender_law/2021/10/2019-annual-survey-the-cost-of-womens-success-law-school-survey-of-student-engagement.html

Education, Law schools, Women lawyers | Permalink

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