Our data sample includes 578 mediation sessions conducted as part of Cobb County Superior Court’s mandatory ADR program in the 2006 – 2007 time period. Previous posts have described the data sample and court program in greater detail.
We identified the gender of the 122 individuals who mediated these cases in order to compare the overall settlement rate of male mediators compared to the overall settlement rate of male mediators. Our findings can be summarized.
|Female Mediators||300 Cases||62.0% Settlement Rate|
|Male Mediators||278 Cases||42.4% Settlement Rate|
Female mediators settled cases in our sample settled cases at approximately 20% higher rate than male mediators. The overall settlement rate was 53%.
To further illustrate the data, we organized our chart of “popular mediators” according to the settlement rates of the 35 most frequently used mediators in our data sample. We then colored each bar to represent the gender of the mediator who achieved the settlement rate represented.
Examining the graphical representation of mediator gender and settlement rates, one can see that there are male mediators who settle cases at higher than average rates, as well as female mediators who settle cases are lower than average rates. Nevertheless, it appears that most of the popular mediators who settle cases at higher than average rates are women, while the majority of popular mediators who settle cases at lower than average rates are men.
Some may object to this “battle of the sexes” analysis on the grounds that men and women should be treated as equals. Based on our data, however, male and female mediators are not statistically equal with respect to the rate at which they settle cases. Whether this “good” or “bad” is more a matter of philosophy than statistics.
In her book In a Different Voice, Carol Gilligan described how men and women think about moral conflicts differently. Her research suggests that men tend to consider conflict in terms of rights while women generally view conflicts in terms of dynamic relationships. Accordingly, a “female” approach to conflict resolution may be better suited to the process of facilitating mediated settlements than a “male” approach to conflict.
Because many cases in our data sample involve family law conflicts between parties with long-term relationships, as opposed to conflicts between relative strangers, settling these cases may require mediators to appreciate the relationships of the parties involved.
As we continue to study mediated cases and increase our data sample, it will be interesting to compare the settlement rates of male and female mediators in domestic relations cases against other types of cases, particularly lawsuits for damages.
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