Ladies, are you trying to find the right boss/mentor to help steer your career? You know what I mean—someone with power who will not only stick up for you but also understand what you’re all about.
Well, the next time you’re called into the corner office for an assignment, you might want to first sneak a peek at the photos behind the desk—particularly if it’s a male partner or manager. And if you don’t see photos of little girls on the credenza, you might want to hitch your wagon to another partner.
Harvard University and the University of Rochester recently came out with a new study on federal judges’ family lives and how they affect their decisions. (The study looked at the family data of 224 judges on the U.S. Court of Appeals and how the judges decided on 1,000 gender-related cases.) The finding is that daughters make a big difference in the judges’ outlook:
Judges with daughters consistently vote in a more feminist fashion on gender issues than judges who have only sons. This result survives a number of robustness tests and appears to be driven primarily by Republican judges. More broadly, this result demonstrates that personal experiences influence how judges make decisions.
The study cites the influence of daughters on two Supreme Court justices: William Rehnquist, a stalwart conservative, who ruled in favor of the Family and Medical Leave Act, and Harry Blackmun, who wrote the opinion upholding the right to abortion in Roe v. Wade. (Rehnquist’s daughter was a divorced mom, while Blackmun had a daughter who dropped out of college after becoming pregnant.)
So what about female judges with daughters? Wouldn’t that double the power of the daughter effect? Not so much, according to the study, because “female judges will already have firsthand experience with the difficulties of being female and in the workplace.”
Daughters have a much stronger effect on male judges, especially conservative ones, because these men stand to learn so much more from their female progeny. The study says:
Male judges, however, may not have this firsthand experience; for them, the experience of having daughters could introduce them to the challenges faced by young women.
Of course, the study focuses on judges. The big question is whether the findings are applicable to male bosses generally.
From my experience, I’d say that male bosses with daughters might be a tad more supportive of women—that is, they didn’t seem allergic to promoting women. But I don’t think they went out of their way to help women either. And some daddy-bosses with daughters could still be nightmarish in all other respects because, well, they’re lawyers.
Readers, what’s your experience? Are fathers of girls more supportive of your career?
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