Stress and Health in First-Year Law Students: Women Fare Worse1


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    We appreciate the assistance of Scheon Griffin and Steve Yaung in data collection and coding. We would to thank an anonymous reviewer for helpful comments on an earlier draft. This study would not have been possible without the support and cooperation of Sherry Kozlouski and Dean of Students Susan Eklund of the University of Michigan Law School.

Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Daniel N. McIntosh, Department of Psychology, University of Denver, Denver, CO 80208–0204; internet address:


The social and psychological consequences of being a female law student may include greater stress and worse health than that experienced by male students. First-year law students at a major state university were surveyed about their physical and psychological health prior to, in the middle of, and at the end of the school year. They were also asked about specific sources of strain (e.g., grades, time pressure) at mid-year. Relative to men, women reported greater strain due to sexism, lack of free time, and lack of time to spend with one's spouse/partner. Women also displayed more depression and physical symptoms at the end of the year. Partial correlation analyses controlling for baseline health were used to show associations between mid-year strain and end-of-year emotional and physical health. Gender-role constraints may be more responsible for women's stress than law school per se.