Race and Gender Bias in Three Administrative Contexts: Impact on Work Assignments in State Supreme Courts

Abstract:

Do certain types of administrative processes better inhibit race and gender prejudices that may surface in the public workplace? We compare the effects of three distinct adminis- trative settings on race, gender, and other biases in the workload assignments of state su- preme court justices—important public policy making settings that have been understudied in public administration. In particular, we model the extent to which majority opinion– writing assignment processes exhibit prejudice in states that use randomized assignments, rotated assignments, or fully discretionary assignments, respectively. Our findings confirm that administrative process matters. We use theories of status characteristics and admin- istrative oversight to explain the relationship between administrative context and workload assignment patterns. Based on data from all 50 states, we discover that prejudice exists but that certain administrative processes serve better than others to suppress race and gender biases.

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