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RETHINKING GENDER EQUALITY IN
THE LEGAL PROFESSION’S PIPELINE TO POWER:
A STUDY ON MEDIA COVERAGE OF SUPREME COURT
NOMINEE...
1. OUR BACKGROUND
2. OUR STUDY
3. OUR FINDINGS
4. READ MORE
OUR BACKGROUND
Hannah Brenner is an assistant professor at California Western School of Law.
Renee Knake is a professor of law at the Uni...
OUR STUDY
Rethinking Gender Equality in the Legal
Profession’s Pipeline to Power: A Study on Media
Coverage of Supreme Court Nominee...
WHY
STUDY
THE MEDIA’S DEPICTION
OF SUPREME COURT NOMINEES
AS A LENS TO UNDERSTAND
GENDER DISPARITY IN
POSITIONS OF POWER?
CONSIDER
THE RECENT CEOANNOUNCEMENTS
FOR
MCDONALDS
AND
YAHOO
(BOTH ASSUMED THEIR NEW ROLES IN JULY 2012)
WE OBSERVED A SIMILAR
PHENOMENON
WHEN
PRESIDENT OBAMA
ANNOUNCED
HIS FIRST TWO NOMINEES
TO THE SUPREME COURT
SONIA SOTOMAYOR
AND
ELENA KAGAN
YOU SAW THE
HEADLINES
Elena Kagan v. Sonia
Sotomayor:
Who Wore it Better?
WE
FOUND
THESE
HEADLINES
And so we embarked upon
our empirical study about
the media coverage of
Supreme Court nominees…
Our study begins with the nominations of
Rehnquist and Power in the early 1970’s.
We coded over 50 variables for every article
written about a nominee from the
announcement date until the date of withdraw...
OUR FINDINGS
We are analyzing the data in phases. The initial
phase focuses on what we call the Introduction
Week, i.e. the first week ...
Intro Week Finding #1:
On average, female nominees receive more coverage
(in terms of quantity and length of articles) tha...
Intro Week Finding #1:
Actual Numbers
NOMINEE PRESIDENT ARTICLE
S
WORD COUNT
Kagan Obama 57 43,887
Sotomayor Obama 78 78,0...
Intro Week Finding #2:
The gender or sexuality of female nominees is mentioned
more frequently than the gender or sexualit...
Intro Week Finding #3:
The limited sample of articles tends to show
that appearance of female nominees is mentioned
more f...
Intro Week Finding #4:
The limited sample of articles reveals that the family life of
female nominees tends to be mentione...
uth
(1974-Current file); Jun 19, 1993;
Newspapers The Washington Post (1877 - 1994)
Court Choice Conservative by Nature, N...
Intro Week Finding #5:
The articles are more likely to be written by male journalists
than female journalists during the i...
So what?
Today, illustrated most recently by the
nominations of Justices Sotomayor and Kagan,
explicit bias against women barring t...
READ MORE
Brenner & Knake, Rethinking Gender
Equality in the Legal Profession’s Pipeline to
Power: A Study on Media Covera...
Rethinking Gender Equality in the Legal Profession’s Pipeline to Power: A Study on Media Coverage of Supreme Court Nominees
Rethinking Gender Equality in the Legal Profession’s Pipeline to Power: A Study on Media Coverage of Supreme Court Nominees
Rethinking Gender Equality in the Legal Profession’s Pipeline to Power: A Study on Media Coverage of Supreme Court Nominees
Rethinking Gender Equality in the Legal Profession’s Pipeline to Power: A Study on Media Coverage of Supreme Court Nominees
Rethinking Gender Equality in the Legal Profession’s Pipeline to Power: A Study on Media Coverage of Supreme Court Nominees
Rethinking Gender Equality in the Legal Profession’s Pipeline to Power: A Study on Media Coverage of Supreme Court Nominees
Rethinking Gender Equality in the Legal Profession’s Pipeline to Power: A Study on Media Coverage of Supreme Court Nominees
Rethinking Gender Equality in the Legal Profession’s Pipeline to Power: A Study on Media Coverage of Supreme Court Nominees
Rethinking Gender Equality in the Legal Profession’s Pipeline to Power: A Study on Media Coverage of Supreme Court Nominees
Rethinking Gender Equality in the Legal Profession’s Pipeline to Power: A Study on Media Coverage of Supreme Court Nominees
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Rethinking Gender Equality in the Legal Profession’s Pipeline to Power: A Study on Media Coverage of Supreme Court Nominees

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Today, illustrated most recently by the nominations of Justices Sotomayor and Kagan, explicit bias against women barring their entry into the legal profession is in many ways nonexistent. It has been replaced, however, with more subtle shades of bias that tend to center around often inter-related issues of motherhood, competency, and appearance. The pervasiveness of these three kinds of bias is evidenced in the first phase of our Media Study and we predict that our subsequent research will offer further support.

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Rethinking Gender Equality in the Legal Profession’s Pipeline to Power: A Study on Media Coverage of Supreme Court Nominees

  1. 1. RETHINKING GENDER EQUALITY IN THE LEGAL PROFESSION’S PIPELINE TO POWER: A STUDY ON MEDIA COVERAGE OF SUPREME COURT NOMINEES Hannah Brenner Renee Knake
  2. 2. 1. OUR BACKGROUND 2. OUR STUDY 3. OUR FINDINGS 4. READ MORE
  3. 3. OUR BACKGROUND
  4. 4. Hannah Brenner is an assistant professor at California Western School of Law. Renee Knake is a professor of law at the University of Houston Law Center and holds the Doherty Chair in Legal Ethics (effective Aug. 1, 2016). They are former co-directors of the Kelley Institute of Ethics and the Legal Profession at Michigan State University College of Law. Prof. Brenner is the former executive director of the Center for Women in Law at the University of Texas. We are grateful to MSU College of Law for generous research support of this project.
  5. 5. OUR STUDY
  6. 6. Rethinking Gender Equality in the Legal Profession’s Pipeline to Power: A Study on Media Coverage of Supreme Court Nominees, 84 TEMP. L. REV. 325 (2012)
  7. 7. WHY
  8. 8. STUDY
  9. 9. THE MEDIA’S DEPICTION
  10. 10. OF SUPREME COURT NOMINEES
  11. 11. AS A LENS TO UNDERSTAND
  12. 12. GENDER DISPARITY IN
  13. 13. POSITIONS OF POWER?
  14. 14. CONSIDER THE RECENT CEOANNOUNCEMENTS FOR MCDONALDS AND YAHOO (BOTH ASSUMED THEIR NEW ROLES IN JULY 2012)
  15. 15. WE OBSERVED A SIMILAR PHENOMENON
  16. 16. WHEN
  17. 17. PRESIDENT OBAMA ANNOUNCED
  18. 18. HIS FIRST TWO NOMINEES
  19. 19. TO THE SUPREME COURT
  20. 20. SONIA SOTOMAYOR AND ELENA KAGAN
  21. 21. YOU SAW THE HEADLINES
  22. 22. Elena Kagan v. Sonia Sotomayor: Who Wore it Better?
  23. 23. WE
  24. 24. FOUND
  25. 25. THESE
  26. 26. HEADLINES
  27. 27. And so we embarked upon our empirical study about the media coverage of Supreme Court nominees…
  28. 28. Our study begins with the nominations of Rehnquist and Power in the early 1970’s.
  29. 29. We coded over 50 variables for every article written about a nominee from the announcement date until the date of withdrawal or confirmation appearing in the New York Times and the Washington Post. Our collection includes over 4,000 articles.
  30. 30. OUR FINDINGS
  31. 31. We are analyzing the data in phases. The initial phase focuses on what we call the Introduction Week, i.e. the first week after a nomination is announced. We have five findings from the Intro Week.
  32. 32. Intro Week Finding #1: On average, female nominees receive more coverage (in terms of quantity and length of articles) than male nominees. Female Mean(SD) Male Mean(SD) Mean Differenc e t-value(df) Number of Stories 54.2(18.2) 47.7(23.1) 6.5 0.546(13) Word Count per Story† 1,081.4(699.8) 959.1(721) 122.3 2.112(680) * Note. *p<.05, two-tailed. †Nominees without this variable removed from analysis
  33. 33. Intro Week Finding #1: Actual Numbers NOMINEE PRESIDENT ARTICLE S WORD COUNT Kagan Obama 57 43,887 Sotomayor Obama 78 78,043 Alito Bush 68 66,247 Miers Bush 62 60,023 Roberts Bush 98 94,529 Breyer Clinton 26 31,698 Ginsburg Clinton 44 55,173 Thomas Bush 57 55,185 Souter Bush 55 55,686 Kennedy Reagan 25 23,839 Bork Reagan 43 41,800 Scalia Reagan 44 41,276 O’Connor Reagan 24 30,505 Stevens Ford 21 12,754 Powell * Nixon 29 n/a *The articles written about Powell and Rehnquist were retrieved using an alternate search mechanism which did not generate word counts, so they are not included in our analysis for this variable.
  34. 34. Intro Week Finding #2: The gender or sexuality of female nominees is mentioned more frequently than the gender or sexuality of male nominees.
  35. 35. Intro Week Finding #3: The limited sample of articles tends to show that appearance of female nominees is mentioned more frequently than the appearance of male nominees but more data is needed.
  36. 36. Intro Week Finding #4: The limited sample of articles reveals that the family life of female nominees tends to be mentioned more frequently than the family life of male nominees but more data is needed.
  37. 37. uth (1974-Current file); Jun 19, 1993; Newspapers The Washington Post (1877 - 1994) Court Choice Conservative by Nature, Not Ideology N.Y. TIMES, Nov. 7, 2005 As a parent, Judge Alito … spent many hours coaching the high school mock trial team. He taught the students, including his son, Philip, the rules of evidence and how to write opening and closing statements.
  38. 38. Intro Week Finding #5: The articles are more likely to be written by male journalists than female journalists during the introduction week. Author Position Mean (SD) Mean Difference t-value df First 0.754 (.43) 0.254 14.881*** 640 Second 0.689 (.46) 0.189 4.684*** 131 Note.***p<.001, two-tailed. Authors were dummy coded with female=0. Test Value was .5.
  39. 39. So what?
  40. 40. Today, illustrated most recently by the nominations of Justices Sotomayor and Kagan, explicit bias against women barring their entry into the legal profession is in many ways nonexistent. It has been replaced, however, with more subtle shades of bias that tend to center around often inter-related issues of motherhood, competency, and appearance. The pervasiveness of these three kinds of bias is evidenced in the first phase of our Media Study and we predict that our subsequent research will offer further support.
  41. 41. READ MORE Brenner & Knake, Rethinking Gender Equality in the Legal Profession’s Pipeline to Power: A Study on Media Coverage of Supreme Court Nominees 84 TEMP. L. REV. 325 (2012) Download on SSRN

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