Implicit Gender Bias in the Legal Profession: An Empirical Study

Justin Levinson & Danielle Young

Commentators have marveled at the continuing lack of gender diversity in te legal profession's most influential and honored positions. After achieving near equal numbers of male and female law school graduates for approximately two decades, the gap between men and women in law firms, legal academia, and the judiciary remains stark. Several scholars have argued that due to negative stereotypes portraying women eirther as workplace cutthroats or, conversely, as secretaries or housewives, decision-makers continue to subordinate women to men in the highest levels of the legal profession. Despite these compelling arguements,  no empirical studies have tested whether implicit gender bias might explain the disproportionately low number of women attorneys in leadership rules.

In order to test the hypothese that implicit gender bias drives the continued subordination of women in the legal profession, we designed and conducted an empirical study. The study tested whether law students hold implicit gender biases related to women in the legal profession, and further tested whether these implicit biases predict discriminatory decision-making. 

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