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Do Masculine Names Help Female Lawyers Become Judges? Evidence from South Carolina


  • Bentley Coffey
  • Patrick A. McLaughlin


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. Copyright 2009, Oxford University Press.

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  • Bentley Coffey & Patrick A. McLaughlin, 2009. "Do Masculine Names Help Female Lawyers Become Judges? Evidence from South Carolina," American Law and Economics Review, Oxford University Press, vol. 11(1), pages 112-133.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:amlawe:v:11:y:2009:i:1:p:112-133

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Gary S. Becker, 1974. "Crime and Punishment: An Economic Approach," NBER Chapters,in: Essays in the Economics of Crime and Punishment, pages 1-54 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Becker, Gary S & Grossman, Michael & Murphy, Kevin M, 1994. "An Empirical Analysis of Cigarette Addiction," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(3), pages 396-418, June.
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    Cited by:

    1. Coffey Bentley & McLaughlin Patrick A., 2016. "The Effect on Lawyers Income of Gender Information Contained in First Names," Review of Law & Economics, De Gruyter, vol. 12(1), pages 57-76, March.

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