August 4, 2009

Do Masculine Names Help Female Lawyers Become Judges?

Evidence from South Carolina
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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.