From Classroom to Courtroom

Reading the papers today, you don’t get a lot of new insights about Justice Crennan. Apart from recycling some decade-old barbs towards feminists, the pundits seem pretty unclear about where she’ll stand on the big constitutional questions (Chris Mitchell at the Australian has the best profile).

I found it interesting to see that Justice Crennan was once a teacher. One of the theories that Caroline Hoxby and I test about the decline in teacher quality is that it is partly due to the reduction of gender pay barriers in the professions. In the 1950s and 1960s, gender pay discrimination in law (among other professions) had the effect of pushing talented women – such as Justice Crennan – into teaching. The removal of those barriers has meant that fewer talented women today choose teaching. And it’s interesting to see that in some cases, changing gender pay discrimination has actually led talented women to swap careers.

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