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Archive for the ‘It’s hard to be a woman’ Category

creole-jambalaya-2If you have not guessed by the title, it’s another installment of ‘things you want to know’. As we go through many articles to blog about, we discard many, keep a few, and collect tidbits we don’t want to expend an entire post on but also don’t want to toss. That is how you are gifted with these tidbits—interesting things you want (maybe) to know. Think of it as a jambalaya where you creatively incorporate leftovers from the refrigerator.

What do you know about science?

We’ve blogged before about the disturbing lack of knowledge we see in our mock jurors when it comes to science and technology. A new examination suggests that adults in the US are improving in science knowledge in over the past two decades. But (naturally) there is a catch. The study of American adults knowledge on general science is sponsored by the National Science Foundation and summarized here with correct answers to the questions courtesy of the Business Insider. Apparently, getting correct answers on the science quiz depends on how the question is worded. Let that be a lesson to you as you craft your next case narrative.

Yes, there are occasions when women like to be sexually objectified

In December 2014, we blogged about a video of a woman being harassed and whistled at that was presented as “research” and getting a lot of attention but was not particularly well done when looked at more closely by observers. So when we saw this article (citation at the bottom of the post), we thought of that video and the idea that for some reason, some men think that “cat-calling” a woman they do not know is going to be a good thing. These researchers note the conflicting literature in this area: on one hand there are articles that say women do not like being sexually objectified, but on the other hand, women spend a lot time of appearance (according to these researchers) that is meant to “enhance their sexual appeal”. Naturally, these academics wanted to clear this up for all of us. What they found was that when women were in a committed relationship, they enjoyed a little objectification as long as it was from the person to whom they were committed. From other people? Not so much. Perhaps the cat-calling video makers should revisit those streets and hand out this article to all those cat-callers. We are quite sure that would stop the behavior altogether.

Who earns less money and is it all in your genes? 

New research from the University of Exeter says if you are a short man or an overweight women—you earn less than those who are taller or slimmer. Is it due to discrimination? Perhaps, but the researchers looked at genetic data from almost 120,000 people between 40 and 70 years of age. Specifically, they examined “400 genetic variants” associated with height and “70 genetic variants” associated with body mass index (BMI). They compared these genetic variants (along with the actual height and weight of the people involved) to participant-provided information on their living situations and income. They found that shorter men and heavier women earned less than their taller and slimmer peers—and that was regardless of all other factors. The study is open-access and published in the British Medical Journal.

Are you green with Facebook envy or red with Twitter rage?

You’ve likely seen the studies that say spending a lot of time on Facebook decreases your overall well-being. A new article in Scientific American looks at some of the literature and says that when you react to Facebook posts, it is often with envy (especially if you read but do not comment or post yourself). The authors recommend that if you are going to spend time on Facebook, you do so by actively commenting and posting which will allegedly reduce your experience of Facebook envy.

After solving Facebook issues, the writers move on to Twitter (which we’ve also blogged about) and say that Twitter users who rant online often see it as cathartic even though those who read their angry tweets may simply see them as “Twitter ragers”—so common there are even self-help lists for surviving the attack of the ragers. The writers also comment that Twitter ragers are also likely to be angry and aggressive offline as well. That doesn’t really come as a surprise to us at all.

Do you have a unibrow, gray hair or a bushy beard?

You can rest easier knowing it is all in your genes and product developers (as well as forensic scientists) are paying very, very close attention. While many genes are being discovered, the genes for the rate at which your hair goes gray, how bushy your beard or eyebrows are, or whether your eyebrows form a unibrow—have only just now been discovered. Apparently, forensic scientists want to use this information to figure out how to create images of criminal suspects when all they have is the suspect’s DNA. Product developers are expected to use the genetic information to aid in new product development. And, believe it or not, hair growth patterns are related to some diseases so it is believed medical researchers can learn from this seemingly frivolous study as well.

Meltzer, AL McNulty, JK Maner, JK (2016) Women like being valued for sex, as long as it is by a committed partner. Archives of Sexual Behavior.

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We’re unsure if this strategy would work for women but it seems to work for men—at least in medical schools and teaching hospitals. We do presume those male leaders with mustaches do not have the sort of mustache illustrating this post but what do we know? We also tend to believe that if a woman were to grow this sort of mustache, she would also not be selected to advance as a leader. But, we digress. On to the real point of this blog post.

Each year, the British Medical Journal publishes a Christmas issue where they offer a more light-hearted look at important issues of the day. We posted about one of their articles on Christmas Day. Here is another important paper that (alas) reflects what women know all too well when it comes to women in leadership. These researchers (two medical residents, a professor of law ,and a professor of dermatology) examined (carefully and presumably visually) “clinical department leaders (n=1018) at the top 50 US medical schools funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH)” to see if they were male or female and whether they had mustaches. None of the women in the sample had a mustache. The researchers defined a mustache in the following way: “the visible presence of hair on the upper cutaneous lip” and they included the presence of both standalone mustaches and mustaches in combination with other facial hair. They specifically did not include facial hair such as “mutton chops” or “chin curtains” as mustaches.

According to the researchers women accounted for only 13% of department leaders in the sample (137 women out of 1,018 department leaders).

Leaders with mustaches (none of them, as mentioned earlier, women) accounted for 19% of the sample (190/1,018 total leaders). And according to them, less than 15% of men in the country have mustaches so mustached men are over-represented among medical department leadership. .

The proportion of female leaders ranged from 0% to 26% across institutions and from 0% to 36% across specialties.

Only seven specific institutions and five specialties had more than 20% of female department leaders.

The researchers developed a novel unit of measure called the mustache index. (Essentially this is computed by looking at the number of mustached leaders versus the number of female leaders.) “The overall mustache index of all academic medical departments studied was 0.72 (p<.004). In other words, a medical department is much more likely to be led by a man with a mustache than by a woman. Only six of 20 separate medical specialties had “more women than mustaches” (for a mustache index > 1).

The researchers recommend that “mustachioed” individuals should number less than the number of women in medical department leadership (and they state they clearly do not mean a “no mustache” policy). They want to call attention to the disparity in these leadership positions between men and women—hence the tongue-in-cheek “mustache index”. They offer a number of suggestions to help increase the number of women in leadership positions that revolve around developing job criteria prior to evaluating candidates, flexible work schedules as well as increased personal control over work time and cite the high levels of satisfaction among women physicians in specialties that allow “controllable lifestyle” such as dermatology and anesthesiology.

From a litigation perspective, this really applies most to law office management and we’ve written before about the importance of hiring practices that do not discriminate against applicants by gender or race and ethnicity (as well as other descriptive characteristics). You can see all those posts by looking at our blog category on law office management. Do a quick count in your own office. Do leaders with mustaches outnumber leaders who are women?

Wehner MR, Nead KT, Linos K, & Linos E (2015). Plenty of moustaches but not enough women: cross sectional study of medical leaders. BMJ (Clinical research ed.), 351 PMID: 26673637

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We are now in ABA’s Blawg 100 Hall of Fame!

Monday, November 30, 2015
posted by Douglas Keene

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We’ve recently been informed that The Jury Room has been inducted into the ABA Journal Blawg 100 Hall of Fame! Okay, it’s not a Pulitzer, but we are wildly happy about it. To our way of thinking, it is the greatest honor The Jury Room could be given. We appreciate the recognition. Closer to truth, we are shocked. Every December from 2010-2014 we have been delighted to be included in the Blawg 100, but this was not even on our radar screen. Here’s a link to the 2015 ABA Blawg Hall of Fame and a link to the 2015 Blawg 100 honorees.

Here’s how the ABA describes the Blawg 100 Hall of Fame:

In 2012, we established the Blawg 100 Hall of Fame for those blogs which had consistently been outstanding throughout multiple Blawg 100 lists. The inaugural list contained 10 inductees; this year, we added 10 more, bringing the total to 40.

And here is how they described this blog on their roster:

Trial consultants Douglas Keene and Rita Handrich find the research to alternately back up what you think you already know about human psychology (Is rudeness contagious? Yes.) and alert you to the unexpected (Are “beer goggles” real? No.) Posts are both fascinating reads and lessons on how not to base your cases on stereotypical assumptions.

We were inspired to begin blogging by Anne Reed (formerly of Deliberations blog and now leading the charge at the Wisconsin Humane Society). Once we got started blogging, we realized it was a wonderful way to keep up with the changing literature and to share what we were learning along the way. Looking back over the 900+ posts, we still find it interesting to blog as well as a great impetus for our own continuing education. Thank you, ABA Journal, for your recognition of our work over the last 6-1/2 years.

Doug and Rita

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12 angry men 2015Well, okay—part of why it was not called ’12 Angry Women’ is because at the time the movie was made (1957), in most venues women were not permitted to serve on juries. But the research we’re featuring today says that even while on jury duty, it’s hard to be a woman.

Today’s researchers had 210 undergraduates (65% female; average age 19 years; 31% Asian, 28% Hispanic, 27% White 8% African-American, 6% Other) read and view a 17 minute computerized presentation based on a real case where a man was charged with murdering his spouse by slitting her throat (R. v. Valevski, 2000). The defense was that she had actually killed herself due to depression. Participants read summaries of opening and closing statements and read eyewitness testimonies. They also viewed photographs of the crime scene and the alleged murder weapon.

After reading all the information on the case, participants decided on a preliminary vote of either guilty or not guilty. Then they exchanged a series of messages with peers who were also participating in the study and making their decisions as to whether to convict or acquit.

Of course, you realize already that the messages were not really from other participants but from the researchers and were part of the study.

The researchers had five specific messages that each participant received ostensibly from five other participants—four of them agreed with the participant’s verdict and one did not. So there was a holdout juror—and that holdout juror had a name either clearly female (Alicia) or clearly male (Jason) while the four “jurors” who agreed with the participant had names the researchers describe as “gender-neutral” (e.g., JJohnson or syoun96).

As the group continued to exchange their messages in this electronic version of deliberation, the researchers had the holdout type some words in all caps to express anger and/or fear. So—all the participants had read the same information prior to exchanging messages with a small group of 5 other “jurors”. Sometimes the holdout juror’s arguments were made with fear and some with anger while the others were made in an emotionally neutral tone. Throughout the discussion—participants were asked how confident they felt in their initial verdict and then were allowed to change their vote if they wished to as the deliberations concluded. Only 7% of the participants modified their original vote.

Here is some of what the researchers found:

Once the participants learned their verdict choice represented a majority vote, they said they were more confident in their initial verdict.

However, if the “holdout” in their condition was male and he expressed anger, the participants began doubting their initial opinions (at a statistically significant level). In contrast, if the “holdout” in their condition was female and she expressed anger, participants became significantly more confident in their initial opinion over the course of deliberations.

Both male and female participants responded in this way—male holdouts were more convincing when expressing anger while women holdouts lost influence when they did exactly the same thing as the male holdouts. The authors do comment that perhaps in the situation where a man is charged with murdering his wife—the angry female holdout may have been seen as over-identifying with the victim. However, this pattern of results was also in the condition where the female holdout was arguing against convicting the male defendant.

And here is what the researchers have to say about their findings:

“We entrust very important decisions to groups and reaching consensus often breeds frustration and anger expression. Our findings suggest that in decisions we are all most passionate about in society, including life and death decisions made by juries, women might have less influence than men. Our results lend scientific support to a frequent claim voiced by women, sometimes dismissed as paranoia: that people would have listened to her impassioned argument, had she been a man.”

From a litigation advocacy perspective, this study has multiple implications—none of which are going to be particularly popular with women—although they may sound all too familiar based on life experiences.

If you are part of a trial team with both male and female attorneys, assign male attorneys to deliver angry or confrontational cross-examinations. (Remember, angry men persuade and angry women make people dig their feet into their own opposing position.) With that said, modulating anger remains important, as men are also criticized by jurors when they are seen as bullying or badgering.

When you are preparing a witness, pay attention to gender as you consider the testimony involved. (Remember, angry men persuade and are seen as more credible while angry women make people think the woman is losing emotional control and not particularly credible.)

It’s sobering to read a study from 2015 and realize that while we think we’ve come a long way, there is still a long way to go when it comes to gender and the expression of anger. It may help to think of this as an example of how to be flexible when it comes to strategically planning how to use anger, persuasion, and gender.

Salerno JM, & Peter-Hagene LC (2015). One Angry Woman: Anger Expression Increases Influence for Men, but Decreases Influence for Women, During Group Deliberation. Law and Human Behavior PMID: 26322952

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beer goggles and coffeeWe write blog posts about so many different topics that you would be surprised how much ends up on the metaphorical cutting room floor. Here are a few more that didn’t make the cut but with whom we thought you might want to have a passing familiarity.

How is coffee good for you? Let us list the ways…

We’ve written about coffee so much here that Doug has accused me of pandering to the coffee industry. This time, however, we are showing you an infographic with a must-see summary of how coffee “really affects your health”. Sure it’s written by someone who appears to be in the coffee industry but we’re sure it’s all true! Did we say “must see”?

Want more life satisfaction? 

We’ve just found a secret to how you can make that happen. Researchers think life satisfaction is really largely about how much you are able to achieve your goals and “assert your will” on circumstances. They call this “primary control”. New research tells us that “secondary control” may be an avenue for life satisfaction as well. You might think of secondary control as adjusting yourself to accommodate your circumstances. And the researchers (cited at the end of this post) say adapting and accommodating can enhance your life satisfaction!

It’s 2015. Do women and men agree on workplace equity for gender?

No.

If you need more than that concise—yet accurate— answer, here’s a Gallup poll from less than two weeks ago. Gallup says nothing has really changed since 2013. Women remain twice as likely as men to feel overlooked for promotion and 17% of women feel they’ve been denied a raise at work due to gender while only 4% of men feel the same way. So. No. Okay? (This might be a good time to refill that coffee cup since coffee is so good for you.)

Do beer goggles really exist?

These researchers took their research to the “real world” of pubs in the United Kingdom. They chose three different pubs and walked in between 5pm and 11pm and recruited volunteers. Altogether, they recruited 311 pub customers and performed breathalyzer tests to determine blood alcohol level. Then they asked them to rate the attractiveness of various photographs of people. They found no relationship at all between alcohol use and how attractive the participants found the photographed faces. It’s good to see this sort of naturalistic research being done. Of course, others are doing this too. Did you hear about the social psychologists who wanted to measure male testosterone levels? Naturally, you may think, they went to a “adult social club”. The researchers do not name the club but they do say it is also referred to as a “swingers club” or a “sex club”—and they describe it as 18,000 square feet so if you want to do your own naturalistic research, it shouldn’t be hard to find.

Helzer, E., & Jayawickreme, E. (2015). Control and the “Good Life”: Primary and Secondary Control as Distinct Indicators of Well-Being Social Psychological and Personality Science, 6 (6), 653-660 DOI: 10.1177/1948550615576210

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