Gender and Law Reviews:
Back in 2005, we had a thread on the topic of gender and law review placements. The question was, why are so many of the placed articles in top journals authored by men? Minna Kotkin has just revived the question with a new draft article, "Of Authorship and Audacity: An Empirical Study of Gender Disparity and Privilege in the 'Top Ten' Law Reviews". Professor Kotkin's conclusion: A disproportionate number of selected articles were authored by men, and explanations other than "unconscious bias" are unsatisfactory. As a result, journals should reexamine their selection processes (among other things).

  My conclusion in 2005 was that the gender disparities in placement were a pretty direct result of the gender disparities in submission numbers. When we opened up this issue for comments back then, the comments from former articles editors proved illuminating. The evidence was just anecdotal, of course, but it suggested that most articles received by the top journals are by men. Here's a selection from a few commenters:
1) I was an articles editor only a few year ago, and though I could not give you exact numbers, there definitely was no gender equality in article submissions — there were significantly more submissions authored by men.

2) I sat on the Essays Committee of The Yale Law Journal this year, and the bulk of our submissions appeared to come from men — not just in con law but in all specialties.

3) Yale Law Journal, several years ago — not even close — submissions by men outnumbered submissions by women maybe 3 to 1 — just a rough estimate.

4) As an articles editor for a tech journal at a top-tier school, the vast majority of submissions were from males.

5) Just took a sample of my submissions database from our last volume (of a top-tier journal), and of 200 submissions sample (out of 1956 total), 72 appeared to be by women (at least based on names). The ratio among expedite requests looks roughly the same (33 out of a sample of 100 were women). So if that holds up, there's certainly a skew in the authorship on the order of 2:1.

6) I was an articles editor on the UCLA Law review about 4 years ago. By far the majority of 120+ submissions that I can recall doing primary review on were written by men.
  Professor Kotkin recognizes this possibility at pages 50-54, where she considers the possibility that women may submit fewer articles because they are forced to take on other commitments (whether service requirements or family commitments) or because they write just as much but lack the confidence to submit their work to journals. But I tend to think that this doesn't quite grapple with the issue. If it turns out that the real gender disparity comes with who is submitting articles rather than the selection process — for whatever reason — then I'm not sure how reexamining the selection process really addresses the issue. I suppose we'll have to wait for a journal to do a study of its own submissions, formally comparing the gender ratio of its submissions with the gender ratio of the accepted articles, to have a better sense of that.

  Hat tip: Dan Markel.