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Female Editors-in-Chief Take Reins at Student-Led Journals

Female Editors-in-Chief Take the Reins at Student-Led Journals

By Lori Atherton
May 2, 2013

When the incoming leadership of Michigan Law's student-led journals began meeting recently to discuss plans and procedures for the next academic year, they noticed something interesting: All of the editors-in-chief, as well as the majority of the managing editors, are women.

"We definitely realized it right away, and I think everyone was amused at the coincidence," said 2L Sarah Cork, the new editor-in-chief of the Michigan Telecommunications and Technology Law Review (MTTLR). "Personally, I don't think it's all that surprising—having met the other EICs, it's evident that we're all very talented, dedicated people who also happen to be women."

Added Dayna Zolle, 2L, the new editor-in-chief of the Michigan Law Review: "The fact that so many women are in these leadership roles at Michigan Law is a testament to our incredible student body and the dedicated and ambitious female students that attend the Law School."

Michigan Law currently has six student-led journals; in addition to the Law Review and MTTLR, the list includes the Michigan Journal of Law Reform (2L Emma Cox), the Michigan Journal of International Law (2L Julia Stuebing), the Michigan Journal of Gender and Law (2Ls Greer Donley and Gina Myers-Schulz), and the Michigan Journal of Race and Law (2L Emily Gilman). The Law School also has two provisional journals that were started in recent years: the Michigan Journal of Environmental and Administrative Law (2L Jamen Tyler) and the Michigan Journal of Private Equity and Venture Capital Law (2L Rachel Shapiro).

During the 1991-1992 academic year, women also served as editors-in-chief of the three journals published at that time: Corinne Beckwith Yates, '92, of the Michigan Law Review; Valerie Wald, '92, of the Michigan Journal of Law Reform; and Senior Assistant Dean for Admissions Sarah Zearfoss, '92, of the Michigan Journal of International Law.

A review of Michigan's two oldest law journals—the Michigan Law Review and the Michigan Journal of Law Reform—indicates that Sally Katzen, '67, was the first woman editor-in-chief of the Law Review in 1966, while Margaret Houy, '79, served as the first woman editor-in chief of the Law Reform in 1978. As far back as the 1940s, however, two women were listed as managing editor and acting editor-in-chief of the Law Review in 1944 and 1945: Katharine Loomis, '38, and Mary Jane Plumer, '45, respectively.

Donley, who will be sharing editor-in-chief responsibilities with Myers-Schulz next semester, noted that because the journals' editorial boards are selected by students, "it says a lot about our community that students had no qualms about choosing women for some of the most important leadership positions at Michigan. We have a lot of really strong women at Michigan, and the support for them is phenomenal."

In addition to serving as editors-in-chief for the upcoming year, women also are serving in other leadership capacities on journals, including as managing editors and executive editors. This fact isn't lost on 2L Emily Goebel, the new executive editor of development on the Michigan Law Review and events co-chair for the Women Law Students Association (WLSA). Goebel and 2L Elizabeth Homan, the new managing editor of the Law Review, recently hosted a WLSA panel discussion for 1L women in which they introduced them to incoming and outgoing journal EICs and managing editors.

"We thought it would be very beneficial to not just talk to 1L women about journals, but to show them the overwhelming female composition of a lot of the journals' higher positions," Goebel said. "While the panel itself was helpful and well attended, the most beneficial aspect of it from my perspective was the image of the eight chairs in the front of the room, representing all eight journals at Michigan Law, being filled with women."

While the coincidence of women serving in leadership roles is something to be celebrated, Cork noted, "it's important to frame the message in terms of what it is isn't—that is, it's not the product of special treatment. It's not as though the women at Michigan Law are somehow more talented or hard-working than before. This time, the best candidates for the job were all women. It demonstrates that we're objectively qualified for these positions of authority and responsibility, and that we want these roles."

Added Goebel: "Women being editors of all the journals next year is a noteworthy moment in the Michigan Law journals' history, but it shouldn't be a surprise to anyone. Hopefully it will serve as an inspiration to everyone applying to journals this coming cycle (and those to come), as the distinction between men and women, and any affinity group in general, should no longer be one of such importance."

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