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Education


Black Men May Have Stemmed


the Tide J


BHE conducted a similar survey five years ago. Since that time


black men have narrowed the gap with black women. Five years ago black women made up 64.3 percent of all African-American enrollments at the nation’s 50 highest-ranked law schools compared to 61.7 percent today. Five years ago there were only three top law schools at which black men were a majority of all African- American enrollments. In this sur- vey there are six. Five years ago black women were 60 percent or more of African- American enrollments at 33 of the 50 top law schools. Today the figure is 25. In our earlier survey there were nine leading law schools where black women made up 70 percent or more of all African-American en- rollments. In this year’s survey there are seven top law schools where black women are at least 70 percent of all black enrollments. Five years ago black women made up 63.4 percent of all African- American enrollments at the black law schools. As we stated earlier, to- day black women are 63.2 percent of all African-American enrollments at the six law schools at HBCUs.


Closing the Gender Gap in African American Law School Enrollments


In law school education, a field that once was almost exclusively reserved for men, African-American women now make up more than 61 percent of all black enrollments at the nation’s highest-ranked law schools. The good news is that black men now may have begun to close the gap. Since this journal was founded in 1993, we have repeatedly ad-dressed a persisting


O


and highly disturbing trend. This is that in higher education black women now hold a huge advantage over black men by almost every measure of attainment. Moreover, the higher education gender gap among blacks is worsening every year. In fact, if the trend in bachelor’s degree attainments over the past quarter century were to continue on a straight-line basis into the future, black men will not be earning a single degree in higher education by the year 2100. This result, of course, is highly unlikely, yet the projection informs us of a very seri-


ous problem. Traditionally, the legal profession has told a different story. Legal education for


blacks and whites has been dominated by both black men and white men. In 1873 the U.S. Supreme Court, in the case Bradwell v. Illinois, upheld the right of a state to pro- hibit a woman from practicing law on account of her gender. As late as the 1960s Har- vard Law School admitted women, but one faculty member refused to call on them except on what he designated as Ladies Day, a class time he set aside for that purpose. In 1963 there were only 1,739 female students enrolled in law school in the United States. They made up less than 4 percent of all law school enrollments. But during the 1970s women of all races began to attend law school in large num- bers. In 1971 there were 6,682 women enrolled in American law schools. By the end of the decade, women enrollments in law schools had increased about fivefold to more than 37,000. As late as 1980, women still made up only 12 percent of all lawyers in the United States. Over the past 25 years women have made huge strides in legal education. Today there are more than 71,000 women enrolled in law schools in the United States, making up 46.9 percent of total enrollments. In 2008 women earned 47.1 percent of all law degrees awarded in the United States. Historical statistics on black women enrollments in law school are sketchy. But we


do know that it was not until 1956 that the first black woman graduated from the na- tion’s then most highly regarded school of law, Harvard Law School. This was nearly a century after the first black man had earned a law degree at Harvard.


ver the past quarter of a century, black women have been outperforming black men in almost every area of higher education.


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