Professional Interactions and Hiring Decisions: Evidence from the Federal Judiciary
38 Pages Posted: 3 Feb 2020 Last revised: 18 Nov 2021
Date Written: January 2020
We examine the effect of hearing cases alongside female judicial colleagues on the probability that a federal judge hires a female law clerk. Federal judges are assigned to cases and to judicial panels at random and have few limitations on their choices of law clerks: these two features make the federal court system a unique environment in which to study the effect of professional interactions and beliefs in organizations. We constructed a unique dataset by aggregating federal case records from 2007-2017 to collect information on federal judicial panels, and by merging this data with judicial hiring information from the Judicial Yellow Book, a directory of federal judges and clerks. We find that a one standard deviation increase in the fraction of co-panelists who are female increases a judge’s likelihood of hiring a female clerk by 4 percentage points. This finding suggests that increases in the diversity of the upper rungs of a profession can shift attitudes in a way that creates opportunities at the entry level of a profession.
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