Re: Gender importance (was Future Relationships)
Sat, 24 Apr 1999 08:12:20 EDT

In a message dated 99-04-23 23:16:15 EDT, (Spike Jones) write:

> Lee Daniel Crocker wrote:
> > > From Fri Apr 23 12:39:01 1999
> > >
> > > Feminine: 4.000
> > > Masculine: 5.950
> > >
> > > too much testosterone?
> >
> > Isn't that a requirement for a lawyer?
> NO! Check out the Ally McBeal show. The ladies kick butt.

Oh, there's no doubt that the ladies can kick butt. Here's a scene from a hearing I participated in on Tuesday: A toxic tort case in which there are dozen of defendants, each one has one or more lawyers in the courtroom. Of these, only four are women. It so happened that the motion jointly filed by about ten of the defendants (including my client) had been drafted by one of the female lawyers (the rest of us just signed the motion to say "me, too"); so the drafter argued the motion, an intimidating task of advocacy for anyone. She won.

At my alma mater (Univ. Of Tex. Law School), the incoming classes have been slightly more than half female for a decade. Interestingly, PERSISTENCE in the profession remains relatively low for women, although it is increasing slowly. IMHO, the problem is that the high-effort first decade of practice corresponds to the traditional child-bearing and child-rearing years, presenting intense conflicts for women relative to traditional gender assignments. By and large, people attracted to and successful in the legal profession tend to be conventional in their thinking and values (perhaps because they have to be comfortable in rule-driven systems where systemic change happens only slowly), so the pressure to conform to child-bearing and -rearing norms is felt intensely by women also attempting to succeed in a legal career.

But, relating this to the test we've been discussing, by and large the women who persist and succeed in the law have "masculine" characteristics, as defined in that test: They are aggressive, self-assured leaders.

Now, relating this to my joke and Lee's comment, there's a growing body of knowledge about the effect of testosterone on behavioral characteristics linked to gender differences. For instance:

"Penn State researchers study link between testosterone and family relationships" "Humans may have evolved with testosterone because the hormone is useful in conflict situations. Booth has shown that levels of it rise in chess players, wrestlers and tennis players before a match. Studies have shown that women with high levels of testosterone might choose male-dominated occupations more than other women."
"In men, high levels of testosterone are also associated with better health. High-T men are less likely to be obese, for example, and generally have a stronger cardiovascular system."
"But in men, who produce about seven times more testosterone than women, too much of the hormone can cause antisocial and risky behavior. High-T men are more likely to commit a crime, according to past studies." "Men with high levels of testosterone are more likely to be unfaithful, abusive and less close in relationships with their wives," Booth said. They're more likely to divorce. Some high-T men aren't good marriage partners."

I know I've seen a study that showed above-average levels of testosterone in male attorneys, but couldn't find it with a few minutes searching on the web. We know that women have testosterone, too, so I would suspect that successful female attorneys have elevated testosterone levels.

> Greg, how do *real* lawyers relate to that show?

I don't know. The televisions in our house are "movie and news monitors" and I never hear my co-workers talk about anything but professional sports, as far as their television watching behavior is concerned . . . I do know that almost all depictions of the legal process and the life and work of lawyers in the popular media tend to be misleading caricatures (don't even say "John Grisham" in my presence).

	Greg Burch     <>----<>
     Attorney  :::  Vice President, Extropy Institute  :::  Wilderness Guide   -or-
                         "Civilization is protest against nature; 
                  progress requires us to take control of evolution."
                                      -- Thomas Huxley