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. My daughter was taken from my home at the end of June/2014. I said I would sign the safety plan but my husband would not. My husband said he would leave the house so my daughter could stay with me but the case worker said no her mind is made up she is taking my daughter. My daughter went to a friends and then the friend filed a restraining order which she was told by dcs if she did not then they would take my daughter away from her. The restraining order was not in effect until we were to go to court. Eventually it was dropped but for 2 months DCS refused to allow me to have any contact and was using the restraining order as the reason but it was not in effect. This was Dcs violating my rights. Please help me I don't have the money for an attorney. Can anyone take this case Pro Bono?

  2. If justice is not found in a court room, it's time to clean house!!! Even judges are accountable to a higher Judge!!!

  3. The small claims system, based on my recent and current usage of it, is not exactly a shining example of justice prevailing. The system appears slow and clunky and people involved seem uninterested in actually serving justice within a reasonable time frame. Any improvement in accountability and performance would gain a vote from me. Speaking of voting, what do the people know about judges and justice from the bench perspective. I think they have a tendency to "vote" for judges based on party affiliation or name coolness factor (like Stoner, for example!). I don't know what to do in my current situation other than grin and bear it, but my case is an example of things working neither smoothly, effectively nor expeditiously. After this experience I'd pay more to have the higher courts hear the case -- if I had the money. Oh the conundrum.

  4. My dear Smith, I was beginning to fear, from your absense, that some Obrien of the Nanny State had you in Room 101. So glad to see you back and speaking truth to power, old chum.

  5. here is one from Reason magazine. these are not my words, but they are legitimate concerns. http://reason.com/blog/2010/03/03/fearmongering-at-the-splc quote: "The Southern Poverty Law Center, which would paint a box of Wheaties as an extremist threat if it thought that would help it raise funds, has issued a new "intelligence report" announcing that "an astonishing 363 new Patriot groups appeared in 2009, with the totals going from 149 groups (including 42 militias) to 512 (127 of them militias) -- a 244% jump." To illustrate how dangerous these groups are, the Center cites some recent arrests of right-wing figures for planning or carrying out violent attacks. But it doesn't demonstrate that any of the arrestees were a part of the Patriot milieu, and indeed it includes some cases involving racist skinheads, who are another movement entirely. As far as the SPLC is concerned, though, skinheads and Birchers and Glenn Beck fans are all tied together in one big ball of scary. The group delights in finding tenuous ties between the tendencies it tracks, then describing its discoveries in as ominous a tone as possible." --- I wonder if all the republicans that belong to the ISBA would like to know who and why this outfit was called upon to receive such accolades. I remember when they were off calling Trent Lott a bigot too. Preposterous that this man was brought to an overwhelmingly republican state to speak. This is a nakedly partisan institution and it was a seriously bad choice.

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