William & Mary Journal of Race, Gender, and Social Justice


In light of the 2008 presidential campaign, Gregory S. Parks
and Jeffrey J. Rachlinski wrote an extensive analysis, titled A Better
Metric, likening the campaign to an interview process and hiring
decision for a high-ranking job. Though unpublished, their work
spawned a number of published articles, book chapters, and a book
on the role of unconscious race and gender bias in the evaluations of
President Barack Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, and Secretary
of State Hillary Clinton. In light of the analogy between voting and
hiring decisions, this article argues that questions about sexism and
gender bias along the campaign trail implicate the law. Title VII of
the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects individuals from gender bias in
the workplace. While modern conceptions of how such bias actually
operates, largely drawn from social and cognitive psychology, should
aid legal decision-makers in determining whether bias indeed occurred
in any particular case, greater insight into the intersection of psychology
and the law is needed. Here, we explore the roles that sexism and
implicit, or unconscious, gender bias played in the 2008 presidential
race, analyzing these factors through the lens of Title VII. Further, we
buttress the proposition put forth by a growing body of legal scholars
that the role of implicit attitudes in decision-making has significant
implications for Title VII jurisprudence.