Where are the Data, Cripes!

Ann Bartow over at the Feminist Law Professors blog posted the list of lateral law faculty moves this year (via TheFacultyLounge.org).  It’s hard to get Professor Bartow’s take (because she didn’t provide commentary) on the fact that the list showed only male professors, but she did put “Cripes!” in the title of the post, and tag it as “The Overrepresesentation of Men” and “The Underrepresentation of Women,” so I think it’s safe to say she thinks that there’s some sort of gender discrimination going on in lateral hiring.

But, before we can legitimately start throwing out accusations of discrimination, we should answer two important questions.  (We can, of course, have illegitimate accusations without any sort of analysis or rational thought.)  First, is there a non-discriminatory explanation; and second, do these moves tend to benefit men?

Without conducting a rather intensive study, we can’t tell why only men were moving.  Maybe it is discrimination, but maybe it’s just that men are generally less satisfied with their jobs.  Maybe very few women even attempted a lateral transfer.

However, based on the list alone, we can look at whether these moves benefit men.  I’ve assumed that professors prefer to teach at better schools, and have used the US News and World Report rankings as a way of judging whether they moved to a better or worse school.  There are plenty of problems with the US News ranks, but I think they’re still useful here.  Only four moves involved schools within 10 ranks of each other So. Cal. to Texas (+3), and UVA to Michigan (-1), Arizona to Florida State (-9), and Marquette to St. John’s (both ranked 87).  Even if US News does not reflect law school quality, it is safe to assume that professors care somewhat about perception of quality and prestige, which the US News rankings are a perfect judge of.

I wanted to do a straight numerical analysis, but many of the moves involved schools without a number rank because they are T3, T4 or have never been scored.  I’ve also decided not to consider two of the moves at all: Professor R. A. Duff moved to Minnesota from the Stirling Philosophy department, and Professor Jeremy Waldron is moving from NYU to Oxford.  I’m just not really sure what to do with either move.

So, looking at just the moves between T1 and T2 schools what do we find?  7 professors made downward moves, with an average loss of 20 ranks, while 6 made upward moves with an average gain of 25 ranks.  More moved down, but the upward moves were better.  I think we can call this a wash.

Now let’s look at moves involving T3, T4 and unranked schools.  Professors from LSU (75), Alabama (30), Capital (T4), and Bloomington (23) moved to unranked schools.  I don’t know whether to call the move from Capital a gain or a loss, but for the other three this looks like a pretty significant drop.  There was also one professor going down from a T3 (Texas Tech) to a T4 (Texas Wesleyan).  If we treat unranked schools as T4, we saw two professors drop 3 tiers, one drop 2 tiers, and one drop 1 tier.

And here are the upward moves: Texas Wesleyan (T4) to Gonzaga (40), Florida International (T4) to Indianapolis (87), Michigan State (T3) to Kansas (65), South Texas (T4) to Loyola (T3), and West Virginia (T3) to Villanova (61).  One professor jumped 3 tiers, one jumped 2, and the rest moved up by 1.

It’s also worth noting that three professors moved to tenure track, which is generally considered a pretty important advancement, but each of those moves involved a significant drop, LSU (75) to Charleston (Not Ranked), American (45) to Depaul (87), and Bloomington (23) to Elon (Not Ranked).

I think the moves down look a bit worse than the moves up, but not by a big enough margin, and the sample size is too small to draw any reliable conclusions, except one: Ann Bartow gets stirred up too easily.  It is interesting that out of 25 lateral moves no women were listed.  But, there’s not enough data to support any claim of discrimination, and not even really enough to back up a blog headline of “Where are the Women, Lateral Hires Edition, Cripes!”

My guess is she just got an early start in the race to be offended.

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One Response to “Where are the Data, Cripes!”

  1. Bitter News, 2-18-10 | Bitter Lawyer Says:

    [...] • Law professor lateral tracking.  Catch the fever.  [BL1Y.com] [...]

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