The Portia Hypothesis for South Carolina Judges

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Two Clemson economists have a new paper in the American Law and Economics Review (available here on Westlaw – sorry, I can’t find a free link to it) titled:   Do Masculine Names Help Female Lawyers Become Judges?   Evidence from South Carolina.   The answer to their question is yes.   Here’s the intro summary:

This paper provides the first empirical test of the Portia Hypothesis: Females with masculine monikers are more successful in legal careers. Utilizing South Carolina microdata, we look for correlation between an individual’s advancement to a judgeship and his/her name’s masculinity, which we construct from the joint empirical distribution of names and gender in the state’s entire population of registered voters. We find robust evidence that nominally masculine females are favored over other females. Hence, our results support the Portia Hypothesis.

It’s a short interesting paper worth reading and then considering its broader implications.

- David S. Cohen

NB from Ann: The paper can also be found here if your institution subscribes to Oxford journals; related Situationist post here, with link to draft of paper here.

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