Is the cause possible differences in innate intelligence at the tail ends of the bell curve (what I'd heard called the idiot-genius syndrome, which leads men to be overrepresented both among the very low-IQ and the very high-IQ)?Oh, please. I know it's in question form, but really...
Obviously, you have to be very smart to make it to Supreme Court clerk, but the behavioral requirements to make it to that position are extremely demanding. I don't know precisely what one needs to do and not do to make it, but I have observed some things in the recruitment of new lawprofs. I'll begin with a shocking revelation: There isn't a single former Supreme Court clerk at the University of Wisconsin Law School. Why? This is a question I've often asked myself. (Maybe Eugene can help me out.) It's not that we don't interview people with this impressive credential. We often do. It's not that they are snubbing us. We end up not making offers. It's uncanny. I don't want to make generalizations about people, so I'm holding my tongue.... holding my furiously typing fingers.
I've just spent 15 minutes trying to write the next sentence to that paragraph. I give up! Maybe if I was the Supreme Court clerk type, I'd have framed that damned sentence. Because you need me to. I say no. I won't. Nooooooooooooo. I don't wannaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa.
ADDED: Amber makes a smart comment here, which makes me feel like a jerk for not linking to her blog post, which Eugene linked to, especially since my previous post here is all about clicking on links. That was soooooo wrong of me. So let's go to Amber's place. I mean, go there. Read the whole thing.
A well-regarded liberal judge on the same circuit reported nearly identical percentages. Since a circuit court clerkship is essentially required for a Supreme Court clerkship, if fewer women clerk at lower levels, then the pool for Supreme Court clerkships will be smaller. (As a side note, I do find it interesting that comparatively few women clerk. Is this because they want to cash in at the firm for as many pre-baby years as possible? Are women less likely to expect a spouse or lover to follow them to clerkships in remote parts of the United States than men are?)Maybe a lot of judges really don't want persons who might become pregnant to be clerks. Care to share any stories about judges -- maybe even impeccably liberal judges -- who have revealed their prejudice against pregnancy and motherhood? I could recount a shocking one, but I won't.
On the behaviorial point, which we're discussing in the comments, let me speculate about why women might act and feel very different about being a law clerk. I'm much older than those who are doing clerkships now, but for me, being a clerk is too much like being a secretary. A guy may like the feeling of being someone's right hand man. You can say right hand woman, but it's not a normal phrase. Being a close, subordinate assistant resonates with a long line of inferior positions offered to women.
So that's my speculation: clerking doesn't seem so strikingly advantageous to a woman the way it does to a man. We may want do it because we've been told this is the best path to start your career, but something inside says I don't like the look of myself in that position.
ONE MORE THING: Please connect this discussion to an analysis of the style of writing and reasoning found in Supreme Court opinions.