Jeremy's Weblog

I recently graduated from Harvard Law School. This is my weblog. It tries to be funny. E-mail me if you like it. For an index of what's lurking in the archives, sorted by category, click here.

Sunday, February 22, 2004

We received in our mailboxes this week a copy of the executive summary of a "Study on Women's Experiences at Harvard Law School" conducted by a committee of students. It found that women receive slightly lower grades, volunteer to speak in class significantly less often, and are more likely to take public interest jobs and work on journals. It was interesting. I will now try to be funny for two paragraphs and then make a serious observation.

The study, unbelievably, ignores the biggest disparity of them all: from my observation, women are hundreds if not thousands of times more likely than men to use the women’s bathrooms. Aside from that one time there was that guy who really couldn’t hold it, and they were cleaning the men’s room, and…. Honestly, I thought the real study was pretty interesting. I went online and read the full report. Most shocking finding: there is apparently a Committee on the Use of Human Subjects that has to approve student surveys. That is a scary name for a committee. “Excuse me… I’m performing some medical testing on my fellow students, and was hoping… no, I’m not a licensed doctor… oh, as long as I follow these easy-to-read instructions… got it, thanks.”

I was also surprised at the lengths necessary to find the gender of some of our classmates: “For most students listed, we used their first names to determine gender. When the name was inconclusive, we looked at yearbook pictures. We used internet searches to identify the gender of the few remaining students.” Who are these gender-ambiguous students named Leslie and Pat who can’t be identified by yearbook photo – and, more important, what did they find on the Internet that solved the problem? Is there a secret gender-ambiguous identification website out there somewhere?

[Here's where I'm trying to be serious again]

The most compelling part of the full report, to me, were the selected student comments that were included:

One female 3L wrote, “I've been surprised by the number of people that I see disengaged from life at HLS – both academic and extracurricular. There are lots of people who stop vocalizing what they are passionate about after their first year.”

One male 3L wrote, “The school manages to take 500 of the brightest and most motivated students in any field in the country and systematically pacify and alienate large proportions of them, so that by the time they are in their third year, many if not most students rarely attend class, do the reading, or care a fig about law.”

I think it’s important to look at gender differences, and certainly if there are ways that women are being disadvantaged we should work to figure out why and address it. But the quotes in the report, from men and from women, I think capture broader problems facing law students of both genders: a lot of people just don’t seem to care that much. And maybe there are ways to fix that. If the report can get people thinking about that kind of stuff, I think it will have done an awesome service.

[Now I'm going to try and be funny again by parodying the survey]

Study on Lazy People’s Experiences at Harvard Law School
By the Non-Working Group on Student Experiences

Classroom Participation

We monitored student participation in three or four courses, but fell asleep before any statistics could be collected. Of the results we did collect, we found that lazy students spoke on average 98% less often than motivated students, and were responsible for just 2% of comments in class. Those comments included: “could you repeat the question please?” “will this be on the exam?” “are we really going to get to tomorrow’s reading assignment, or can we just skip it?” and some audible snoring. Lazy students consistently volunteered less often than motivated students, and often remained in their seats for a substantial amount of time after class, failing to realize the class had ended.

Extracurricular Activities

Lazy people comprised just 1% of the executive boards of journals, and could not be found in any statistically significant numbers on Law Review, or ever having even considered it. In fact, lazy people were more likely to travel to outer space than participate in the law review competition, for the years examined.

Student Life and Satisfaction

Lazy students and motivated students differed substantially in how they described their own abilities. Lazy students gave themselves significantly lower scores in skills like “waking up early,” “doing the reading,” “eating three meals a day,” and “going to the bathroom regularly.” However, they gave themselves significantly higher scores in “watching television,” “surfing the Internet,” “wandering around aimlessly,” and, with a tremendous disparity, “sleeping.”

Employment and Clerkships

While there was little difference in the percent of lazy students versus motivated students who accepted a job offer at a large law firm, a substantially higher percentage of lazy students never bothered to show up for work. In addition, 42% of lazy students missed important deadlines like confirming their offers, choosing preferred practice areas, and filing their taxes. Once at work, lazy people were much more likely to cry at random points during the day, and wish they had gone to art school instead. In terms of the three most important factors in choosing a career, lazy students chose “not having to do all that much work” almost 14 times more often than did motivated students.

Academic Performance

We investigated grade patterns, and found that on average lazy students and motivated students received exactly the same law school grades.