Despite significant progress, women in the legal profession still

have not advanced into positions of power at near the rate in which

they saturate the legal market. Scholars agree that simply waiting for

parity is not sufficient, and, thus, they have identified many of the

barriers that contribute to women’s difficulties. To date, however, the

role that scientific and medical understandings play on the evolution of

law, and on women as lawyers, has not received examination until

now. To this end, I posit that medicine played a significant role in

shaping societal expectations and assumptions about gender, and was

similarly influenced by already-existing societal assumptions about

gender. This created a complex and substantial barrier that kept

women from exploring options outside the “spheres” of society they

traditionally occupied. This article explores how medically-supported

gender theories, in practice, have actually operated to limit women’s

professional progress, relegating them to traditional gender roles and

halting their ascension in the ranks of the legal profession. I examine

how this barrier operates in three ways: how early women lawyers

adopted these medical theories into views about their own gender; how

society and those around these early women lawyers adopted these

views to shape expectations about women as lawyers; and how the

court explicitly and implicitly relied on these assumptions about

gender to keep women out of the legal profession. An examination of

how these medical and scientific theories about gender have shaped

the ways society views gender, and vice versa, can help illuminate the

discussion on the barriers that impede modern women lawyers.

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