Name study seems flawed

September 16, 2009
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Samantha, you should just go by Sam. Alexandra should stick to Alex. If your name is Robin, Terry, or Pat, you’ll probably be OK, according to a new study that says women with more masculine sounding names have a better chance of becoming a judge.

A paper in the August issue of America Law and Economics Review used South Carolina microdata to find a correlation between an individual’s advancement to a judgeship and his or her name’s masculinity. The authors claim they found robust evidence that women with masculine names are favored over other females.

In a news article I found about the paper, one author said that changing a woman’s name from something feminine to a gender-neutral name increases her odds of being appointed a judge by 5 percent. And if you want to just change your name from Amy to Steve, you increase your chances of taking the bench by a factor of five.

I have a few of problems with this study. First, consider some of our country’s highest judges who have feminine names – Sandra, Ruth, and now Sonia. In Indiana, our female judges have names such as Sarah, Theresa, Sally, Barbara, and Debra. In fact, after examining the list of trial judges in Indiana, there were only a few gender-neutral names in which I couldn’t tell based on the name alone if it was a male or female judge.

Also, the study used data from South Carolina. Could South Carolina show some kind of bias toward women with feminine names – bias not shown in other parts of the country?

I know some women, in all professions, have changed their name in order to try to get ahead. I hope in the 21st century that this is no longer needed, and women can succeed based on their merits, not their name.
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  • If the semantics of your entry are correct, the discussed study seems to deal with judges who are appointed. If I\'m not mistaken, Indiana chooses judges predominantly by election, which may account for the difference.

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  1. So that none are misinformed by my posting wihtout a non de plume here, please allow me to state that I am NOT an Indiana licensed attorney, although I am an Indiana resident approved to practice law and represent clients in Indiana's fed court of Nth Dist and before the 7th circuit. I remain licensed in KS, since 1996, no discipline. This must be clarified since the IN court records will reveal that I did sit for and pass the Indiana bar last February. Yet be not confused by the fact that I was so allowed to be tested .... I am not, to be clear in the service of my duty to be absolutely candid about this, I AM NOT a member of the Indiana bar, and might never be so licensed given my unrepented from errors of thought documented in this opinion, at fn2, which likely supports Mr Smith's initial post in this thread: http://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-7th-circuit/1592921.html

  2. When I served the State of Kansas as Deputy AG over Consumer Protection & Antitrust for four years, supervising 20 special agents and assistant attorneys general (back before the IBLE denied me the right to practice law in Indiana for not having the right stuff and pretty much crushed my legal career) we had a saying around the office: Resist the lure of the ring!!! It was a take off on Tolkiem, the idea that absolute power (I signed investigative subpoenas as a judge would in many other contexts, no need to show probable cause)could corrupt absolutely. We feared that we would overreach constitutional limits if not reminded, over and over, to be mindful to not do so. Our approach in so challenging one another was Madisonian, as the following quotes from the Father of our Constitution reveal: The essence of Government is power; and power, lodged as it must be in human hands, will ever be liable to abuse. We are right to take alarm at the first experiment upon our liberties. I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations. Liberty may be endangered by the abuse of liberty, but also by the abuse of power. All men having power ought to be mistrusted. -- James Madison, Federalist Papers and other sources: http://www.constitution.org/jm/jm_quotes.htm RESIST THE LURE OF THE RING ALL YE WITH POLITICAL OR JUDICIAL POWER!

  3. My dear Mr Smith, I respect your opinions and much enjoy your posts here. We do differ on our view of the benefits and viability of the American Experiment in Ordered Liberty. While I do agree that it could be better, and that your points in criticism are well taken, Utopia does indeed mean nowhere. I think Madison, Jefferson, Adams and company got it about as good as it gets in a fallen post-Enlightenment social order. That said, a constitution only protects the citizens if it is followed. We currently have a bevy of public officials and judicial agents who believe that their subjectivism, their personal ideology, their elitist fears and concerns and cause celebs trump the constitutions of our forefathers. This is most troubling. More to follow in the next post on that subject.

  4. Yep I am not Bryan Brown. Bryan you appear to be a bigger believer in the Constitution than I am. Were I still a big believer then I might be using my real name like you. Personally, I am no longer a fan of secularism. I favor the confessional state. In religious mattes, it seems to me that social diversity is chaos and conflict, while uniformity is order and peace.... secularism has been imposed by America on other nations now by force and that has not exactly worked out very well.... I think the American historical experiment with disestablishmentarianism is withering on the vine before our eyes..... Since I do not know if that is OK for an officially licensed lawyer to say, I keep the nom de plume.

  5. I am compelled to announce that I am not posting under any Smith monikers here. That said, the post below does have a certain ring to it that sounds familiar to me: http://www.catholicnewworld.com/cnwonline/2014/0907/cardinal.aspx

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