Gender and the Law Prof Blog

Editor: Tracy A. Thomas
University of Akron School of Law

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Graduation Attire as Sex-Based Classification

This is the practice at my local high school (the two colors, but not the segregated lines), where administrators tried to go to one color for all graduates, but were flooded with online petitions from parents and female students claiming "tradition," and thus withdrew the change. (Apparently many girls find white more fashionable than blue.) 

Joanna Grossman & Katharine Bartlett, Blue for Boys, White With Flowers for Girls: When Commencement is an Exercise in Discrimination

By tradition, boys wear blue gowns at graduation; girls wear white. Also by tradition, boys and girls will file into the ceremony venue in separate lines, girls carrying flowers purchased out of class dues. This policy discriminates not only against transgender students and students with nonconforming gender identities, forced to publicly choose a gender, but also against female students who are literally draped in a symbol of female purity laden with gender stereotypes.*

 

Since early March, some students at Nathan Hale-Ray High School have been asking that the gender distinction be dropped at graduation and that students all wear graduation robes of the same color. To date, school administrators have not agreed to the change, and time seems to be running out. Last Tuesday, students were told they could choose a different color than the one that corresponded to their biological sex as long as they had the permission of their parents. The parental-permission requirement was dropped the next day, but the gender-specific robe color was not.

 

The school’s robing policy forces students to identify with a gender, and then makes gender the most visible identifying characteristic of students on the graduation stage. It divides the graduates into “male graduates” and “female graduates.” For what purpose? Only in some bygone century in which boys and girls were educated to fill prescribed gender roles could it have been said that gender was relevant to a high school graduation ceremony. It was, in fact, in the postwar period of the late 1940s and early 1950s, when clear gender roles were thought to be important to restoring social order, that most of these policies came about.

 

May 25, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Continued Use of the Term "Provocative" Entrenches Attitudes About Women's Responsibility for Men's Sexual Behavior

Jessica Wolfendale (WV, Philosophy), Provocative Dress and Sexual Responsibility, XVII Georgetown J. Gender & Law 1 (2016)

 Abstract:     

Numerous studies have found that many people believe that a provocatively dressed woman is at greater risk for sexual assault and bears some responsibility for her assault if she is attacked. Furthermore, in legal, academic, and public debates about sexual assault the appropriateness of the term ‘provocative’ as a descriptor of certain kinds of women’s clothing is rarely questioned. Thus, there is a widespread but largely unquestioned belief that it is appropriate to describe revealing or suggestive women’s clothing as ‘provocative’ and that women who wear such clothing could provoke sexual assault and harassment from men. Yet it is rarely noted that only women’s clothing is described as sexually provocative. Men’s clothing, no matter how revealing, is never described as provocative. Why is this the case?

This Article challenges the assumption that it is appropriate to describe women’s clothing as provocative. Drawing on models of the legal defense of provocation and research on objectification, this article argues that the social interpretation of women’s clothing as provocative arises from the privileged social and legal status of men’s sexual arousal and the objectification of women’s bodies. Continued use of this term thereby normalizes and entrenches deeply problematic attitudes about women’s responsibility for men’s sexual behavior. These beliefs and attitudes not only affect women’s everyday experiences but also have a profound impact on how the law treats the sexual assault and harassment of women. Describing women’s clothing as provocative thus reinforces a problematic conception of women’s bodies and sexuality that is connected to women’s experiences of their bodies, their clothes, and shapes their vulnerability to sexual assault and social and legal attitudes to such attacks.

 

May 25, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

SCOTUS Constructive Discharge Case Helpful for Sex Discrimination Suits

NWLC, SCOTUS Green v. Brennan Decision a Victory for Working Women

It was clarity, common sense, and civil rights for the win yesterday when the Supreme Court announced its decision in Green v. Brennan (“Green”). And in this case—as is often the case— when the three Cs win, women who face discrimination in the workplace also win.

 

Green presented SCOTUS with the question of whether the time limit for bringing a constructive discharge claim begins to run when an employee resigns or at the time of an employer’s last discriminatory act prior to the resignation. And in an exciting decision from which only one Justice (Thomas) dissented, SCOTUS declared that it begins to run after an employee resigns!

 

So now that I write that out, that probably sounds pretty unexciting if you aren’t an employment law nerd. But the implications of this decision for working women—too many of whom still face sex discrimination and, specifically, sexual harassment at work—are incredibly important. That’s because the majority of constructive discharge claims are brought in sex discrimination cases, frequently in cases challenging hostile environment sexual harassment.

 

May 25, 2016 in Equal Employment, SCOTUS | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Justices Most Often Appoint White Men as Friends of Court

Adam Liptak, NYT, When Appointing Friends of Court, Justices are Friendliest Toward White Men

A couple of times each term, the Supreme Court appoints a lawyer to argue a case before it as a friend of the court. Such appointments are a high honor, and they can turbocharge an already promising career.

 

Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr.’s first Supreme Court argument, when he was 33, was as an appointed lawyer. That was a big break, and it was the result of a sort of patronage system, dominated by white male lawyers, that has received surprisingly little scrutiny.

 

“The court has this chit to give out,” Katherine Shaw, who teaches at Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law in New York, said in an interview. “It has a lot of prestige. It can obviously be lucrative down the road. It can have significant impact on a lawyer’s future career advancement. The court is sort of anointing chosen individuals.”

 

Professor Shaw explored the court’s appointment practices in a study to be published in The Cornell Law Review. “The current approach,” she wrote, “permits the justices to dole out the valuable asset of a Supreme Court argument to friends and former employees, in a way that is reminiscent of the cronyism and patronage that characterized government employment” before the Civil Service reforms of the 19th century.

 

One of the study’s notable findings, Professor Shaw said in the interview, was that “gender and race diversity numbers for invited advocates lag behind even the already low overall numbers in Supreme Court advocacy.”

 

Professor Shaw found that about 10 percent of appointments went to women. By comparison, according to a tally by Tony Mauro of The National Law Journal last week, women presented 23 percent of the arguments over all this term.

May 24, 2016 in Courts, SCOTUS | Permalink | Comments (0)

Women Bring Successful Baby Powder Lawsuits

NYT, Lawsuits Over Baby Powder Raise Questions About Cancer Risk

Ms. Berg was the first of thousands of women with ovarian cancer to file a lawsuit against the consumer products giant Johnson & Johnson, claiming that baby powder caused their disease and pointing to a long trail of studies linking talc to the cancer. The research dates to 1971, when scientists in Wales discovered particles of talc embedded in ovarian and cervical tumors. 

 

Since then, numerous studies have linked genital talc use to ovarian cancer, including a report earlier this month that among African-American women, genital use of powder is linked with a 44 percent increased risk for invasive epithelial ovarian cancer. 

 

Johnson & Johnson says its trademark baby powder is safe, and it plans to appeal two multimillion-dollar jury awards, including $55 million in damages awarded to a cancer survivor earlier this month and a $72 million award in February.

 

The International Agency for Research on Cancer in 2006 classified talcum powder as a possible human carcinogen if used in the female genital area. But the agency, part of the World Health Organization, has also said pickled vegetables and coffee are possible carcinogens and that hot dogs cause cancer.

 

Johnson & Johnson says research implicating talcum powder is flawed and points to studies that absolve talc of any cancer risk.

 

“We have children ourselves,” said Tara Glasgow, the research and development lead for the company’s baby products franchise worldwide. “We would never sell a product we didn’t believe was safe.”

 

So did the juries get it right or wrong?

NY Mag, Johnson & Johnson Loses Another Baby Powder Lawsuit

Johnson & Johnson lost its second lawsuit this year over claims that adult women using its baby powder on their vaginas developed ovarian cancer.

 

A 62-year-old South Dakota woman said she used Johnson & Johnson's powder and Shower-to-Shower product for feminine hygiene for decades, and she developed ovarian cancer in 2011; she had a hysterectomy and other surgeries, and her cancer is now in remission.

 

Her suit claimed that the company was aware of the possible link between talcum powder and ovarian cancer and didn't warn customers about the potential dangers of using it on their genitals. The jury awarded her $5 million in compensatory damages and $50 million in punitive damages.

 

In February, a jury awarded $72 million to the family of an Alabama woman who died from ovarian cancer after using the same products. J&J is facing more than 1,000 other cancer lawsuits over talc-containing powders that it marketed to women. (In the '80s, 70 percent of baby-powder users were adults.)

 

Studies on the topic have mixed results and there is not a medical consensus. The company maintains that the cosmetic talc in its baby powder is safe to use, but it does also sell cornstarch-based formulas. Johnson & Johnson plans to appeal this verdict.

NLJ, Big Talcum Verdicts Stemmed from Lawyers' Deep Data Drive

 

May 24, 2016 in Courts, Healthcare | Permalink | Comments (0)

New Hotline for Native American Domestic Violence

Advocates' Hopes High for Domestic Violence Hotline for Native Women

Rape and domestic violence against Native women have reached “epidemic proportions,” but the hotlines that could help are often unprepared for the unique cultural needs of tribal women who may live in rural areas with little support and a bewildering legal system.

 

But that could be changing.

 

Sometime this year, the National Domestic Violence Hotline expects to take the first call at a hotline created specifically to respond to tribal victims.

 

The hotline, four years in the making, will be staffed either by tribal women or specially trained advocates “who can answer calls from Native women to help them … problem-solve around these issues,” said Katie Ray-Jones, CEO of the national hotline.

 

“I think our commitment from the hotline side just accelerated so quickly because of the number of stories, heartbreak, hardship, the lack of hope that many women were feeling,” Ray-Jones said about the first meeting with Native leaders. “(It) just became crystal clear to us that we need to do something.”

 

With the help of the National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center, the tribal hotline will offer crisis intervention, safety planning assessments and referrals to local resources tailored to Native women.

 

Leanne Guy, executive director of the Southwest Indigenous Women’s Coalition, said it was important to have a tribal-specific hotline where people answering the phone understand cultural nuances, how tribal governments function and what it’s like living on a reservation where police may be understaffed, underfunded and serving a large, rural area.

May 24, 2016 in Violence Against Women | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, May 23, 2016

The Feminist Philosophy of Mary Wollstonecraft as both Equality and Complementarity

Paul Kerry (BYU, History), Mary Wollstonecraft on Reason, Marriage, Family Life, and the Development of Virtue in A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, 30 BYU J. Public Law 1 (2015)

The aim of the argument here is to show how A Vindication of the Rights of Woman presents a view of the equal dignity and intellectual capacity of the sexes embedded in the proposition that males and females are beholden to the same standard of virtue and chastity. Wollstonecraft further argues that both women and men have the same obligation to develop virtue by living lives that are ordered to duties by reason. Reason guides the passions and is exercised through the use of moral agency. Although her treatise calls for certain kinds of female independence, there are also spheres of interdependence and complementarity on which she insists in marriage, childrearing, and family life, but also in the development of virtue. Indeed, in the quest to develop virtue, men and women need each other: “The two sexes mutually corrupt and improve each other. This I believe to be an indisputable truth, extending it to every virtue.” Although Wollstonecraft accords religion a central teaching role as well, it is critical to the philosophical underpinnings of her treatise that human reason (God given, in her view) can derive the principles she puts forward and as such her arguments resonate with those made by natural law advocates. Without this set of arguments, Wollstonecraft's compelling philosophical insights are only partially understood if not largely missed, reduced as they are to calls for specific kinds of action rather than understood as reasoned contributions to political thought. A part of the work here must include restoring Wollstonecraft's argument through her own words by close reading.
This begs an important question: How could Wollstonecraft's many words on key elements of complementarity between man and woman in marriage, childrearing, family life, and the development of virtue and the role of reason go undetected or be neglected? Some of Wollstonecraft's ideas are explained away strategically by suggesting that she had to work within the accepted idioms of her time to revolutionize from within the prevalent discourse. On this view, Wollstonecraft is seen to pose her arguments “within a framework that was minimally acceptable to popular prejudices.” The implication is that she cloaked her real arguments inside of language and tropes that would allow other, less acceptable ideas of the time, to be granted passage into the public discourse. Yet, her ideas, those presented here, are strongly present, in some cases tirelessly omnipresent, in her treatise. She holds these up not as the husk in which to hide the real kernel of her meaning, but as essential to her argument--they are the root of her philosophical thinking. It is strangely myopic to classify her thinking on chastity, marriage, the family, and the complementarity of the sexes as mere window dressing because her views are not radical nor break decisively with traditional thinking.
Another answer to the question is that Wollstonecraft's insights are often placed onto a procrustean bed of feminist theory. Wollstonecraft's place in intellectual history has changed along with the political fortunes of the women's movement. Sometimes it appears as if A Vindication of the Rights of Woman is caught in an interpretative struggle over the meaning of feminism, rather than allowing the treatise to challenge and broaden what feminism means. It is tempting to confer on this text a status as a forerunner of modern feminism, but, depending on what a critic defines this to be, such a status can lead to distortions in understanding the text. The risk of “vile anachronism”is always present when studying any thinker from an ideological or theoretical perspective. Finely textured ideas of past thinkers run the risk of becoming flattened to fit an agenda. This apprehension is conveyed in the words of one critic: “One can see how the moral analysis and the social description in A Vindication could be appropriated for a more conservative social theory, which . . . would confine [women] to a desexualized domestic sphere as wives and mothers.” Certainly the multivalent meanings in A Vindication of the Rights of Woman might disturb a tidy reading that would grant it some kind of prototypical status or bind it to one end of a political spectrum. The high aim of scholarship, of course, is to attempt to understand Wollstonecraft's treatise without pressing it tendentiously into one's particular agenda, theoretical, political, or otherwise. Yet, warning about conservative appropriation can easily chill legitimate efforts to rehabilitate a key text in ways that might threaten the dominant feminist paradigms that have confined A Vindication of the Rights of Woman to a narrower reading than is borne out by the evidence. Rather than pre-emptively silencing or ignoring potentially “contradictory implications” it could be that the most interesting insights are to be found in exploring the tensions rather than in pulling or pushing the text in one ideological direction or another.

May 23, 2016 in Legal History, Theory | Permalink | Comments (0)

MD Passes Equal Pay Law

Wash Post, The Thing Americans Don't Want to Talk About Might be Holding Women Back

On Thursday, Maryland became the latest state to protect a worker’s right to ask colleagues one of the most taboo questions in American society: How much money do you make?

 

With Gov. Larry Hogan's signature on the equal pay law, the state joined at least a dozen others that explicitly shield compensation-curious workers from employer retaliation. The move to boost pay transparency comes four months after President Obama laid out new rules that would require companies with more than 100 employees to report to the government salary data based on race, gender and ethnicity, drawing ire from some in the business community.

 

Advocates hope the simultaneous efforts pushing employers to scrutinize their own wage breakdowns — and guarding the employees who choose to discuss them — will help reduce pay disparities between white men, women and employees of color in similar jobs.

May 23, 2016 in Equal Employment, Legislation | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

New $10 Bill Appropriately Features Elizabeth Cady Stanton, But She's About More than Suffrage

More from me blogging on why it is appropriate that Elizabeth Cady Stanton will appear on the new $10 bill.

Who is Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Why is She on the New $10 Bill

Elizabeth Cady Stanton, however, stands out from this respectable group [of women suffrage leaders on the new $10 bill] as the leading philosopher and advocate of the nineteenth-century women’s rights movement. As I discuss in my book Elizabeth Cady Stanton and the Feminist Foundations of Family Law, Stanton was the “radical conscience” and founding mother of feminism. She was also a leading legal thinker advancing a full array of women’s rights. Stanton is memorialized today at the National Women’s Rights Museum located in Seneca Falls, New York. There, a waterfall pours over her prophetic words written in the Declaration of Sentiments.

 

In Stanton’s Declaration, she laid out seventeen demands for women’s rights in addition to the vote. These included the right to equal opportunity in education, employment, and religion. And they included rights within the family designed to assure gender equality, such as joint marital property, no-fault divorce, domestic violence protections, maternal child custody, and equal access to lawmaking through women jurists, lawyers, and juries. Stanton rejected the prevalent idea of the separate sphere of domesticity confining women to the “protection” and isolation of the home. Instead, she saw integrating women into the public sphere of political action and employment as important, while also elevating women as an equal power in the family with rights to property, autonomy, and parenting.

 

 

Stanton’s advocacy for sex equality is integrated into the legal history of family law. She advocated for change to the laws of marital property, equal marital partnerships, no-fault divorce, domestic violence remedies, women’s reproductive control, maternal custody, and de-gendered parenting. It turns out that almost all of Stanton’s radical ideas for the family seem innocuous today only because they have become the law. Turns out she was right, even if she was one hundred years too early.

 

 

May 17, 2016 in Legal History | Permalink | Comments (0)

Beyond #TheNew10: A Better Process for Making Money

Genevieve Blake Tung (Rutgers) & Ruth Anne Robbins (Rutgers), Beyond #TheNew10: The Case for a Citizens Currency Advisory Committee

Abstract:

On April 20, 2016, ten months after promising to place a woman’s portrait on the $10 bill, Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew announced sweeping design changes in American currency. Citizens have been asking for these types of changes for at least 95 years, and we hope that Treasury will bring them to fruition rapidly. Until now, the portraiture and imagery featured on American currency has consistently asserted and reified the singular importance of one type of American: White, male politicians and statesmen, largely from the executive branch. This article explores the administrative framework that has enabled these representational shortcomings to persist as long as they have. From the beginning, the process for designing federal paper money has been characterized by arbitrary and arguably autocratic decision-making and resistance to open processes that consider the creativity and insights of the public. The way that Treasury approached its announcement was fraught with challenges for those citizens trying to have their voices heard in what they believed should be an authentic democratic process. It took a small, private organization, Women On 20s, to highlight this fact for the country - an organization that deserves pages in Treasury’s history books. After reviewing the history of the Treasury Department’s role in the design of currency - and coinage - and compare it with that of other agencies tasked with choosing the people and events worthy of commemoration. We argue that for an alternative process for future currency design that will permit meaningful citizen input.

This article also answers the question of when and how the decision was made to put Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill.
 

May 17, 2016 in Legal History | Permalink | Comments (0)

Problems with the New Human Trafficking Intervention Courts

Aya Gruber (Colorado), Amy Cohen (Ohio State) & Kate Mogulescu (Legal Aid),  Penal Welfare and the New Human Trafficking Intervention Courts, Florida L.Rev. (forthcoming)

Abstract:     

In the fall of 2013, New York State’s chief judge, Jonathan Lippman, announced a “revolutionary” statewide initiative to create and implement Human Trafficking Intervention Courts (HTICs). The initiative occurred amidst a burgeoning consensus that prostitution is human trafficking and women who engage in prostitution are largely victims of exploitation and violence. Given the HTICs’ ambition to, in Lippman’s words, “eradicate the epidemic of human trafficking” and the convergent view of prostitution as trafficking, one might think that the HTICs are courts that prosecute traffickers, where victim-witnesses enjoy special protections. In fact, the HTICs are criminal diversion courts where mostly female defendants are prosecuted for prostitution offenses, but offered mandated services in lieu of criminal conviction and jail. The HTICs are thus a puzzle. Why have so many commentators heralded them as the model approach to prostitution/trafficking when they involve the arrest, prosecution, and even incarceration of prostitution defendants, who are presumed to be victims? A key piece of this puzzle is a phenomenon we call “penal welfare,” that is, a growing practice of using criminal courts to provision social services and benefits. In an era in which “mass incarceration” is a familiar term and tough-on-crime and broken windows ideologies are falling into disfavor, penal welfare enables entrenched institutions of criminal law to continue to function, despite a growing crisis in public confidence. Based on a qualitative empirical study of the HTICs, we argue that precisely because of their welfarist bent, the courts may sustain arrests and prosecutions of the presumptively victimized women they seek to protect, stunt the development of alternate forms of assistance and resources, and reinforce stigmatizing ideologies and discourses.

 

May 17, 2016 in Courts, Human trafficking | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, May 13, 2016

Challenges for a Feminist Criminal Defense Lawyer

Elaine Craig, A Brave and Honest Examination of the Complexity of a Feminist Defence Ethos, JOTWELL

Reviewing: Abbe Smith, Representing Rapists: The Cruelty of Cross Examination and Other Challenges for a Feminist Criminal Defense Lawyer, 53 Am. Crim. L. Rev. (forthcoming 2016).
 

Reading the work of those writing from a different perspective has been productive to the development of my own thinking. Abbe Smith’s forthcoming article,Representing Rapists: The Cruelty of Cross Examination and Other Challenges for a Feminist Criminal Defense Lawyer, is no exception. Like her other scholarship,Representing Rapists is impeccably written, thoughtful, and well reasoned. What makes this work exceptional is its brutal honesty. With its steadfast transparency and willing self-reflection, the article is downright brave.

 

Abbe Smith, a well known legal ethicist and criminal lawyer, has committed much of her professional attention to theorizing and defending the need for unmitigated zeal in the representation of the criminally accused – including, of course, those accused of sexual offences. With a view to better protecting sexual assault complainants, I have dedicated a lot of scholarly attention in the last few years to developing feminist arguments in support of the ethical limits on defence lawyers who represent clients accused of sexual offences. Where our perspectives likely differ most is with respect to the cross-examination of sexual assault complainants.

May 13, 2016 in Violence Against Women, Women lawyers | Permalink | Comments (0)

European Corporate Board Quotas are Working

You Know Those Quotas for Female Board Members in Europe? They're Working

Business people tend to hate governments telling them what to do, and the quotas on female board members imposed on companies by a handful of European countries are no different. But here’s the thing: If a goal of the quotas is to bring more women into the top ranks of business, they seem to be working.

 

That’s the view of Rajeev Vasudeva, the CEO of Egon Zehnder, one of Europe’s largest executive search firms. Vasuveda said he’s no fan of quotas, but concedes they’re having an impact. “I’m not a great supporter of quotas but in this case it’s making difference,” he said in an interview. “It has changed the conversation—it clearly has been put on the agenda of companies.”

 

Norway was the first to introduce quotas for women in 2003, requiring that public companies fill at least 40% of their board seats or risk dissolution. Iceland, Spain and France followed with 40% targets—although with less severe penalties—and other countries have lower thresholds. Last year, Germany became the largest economy to impose a quota, mandating 30% of supervisory board seats be filled by women

May 13, 2016 in Business, International | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wedding Vendors and Free Speech Scrutiny

Caroline Mala Corbin (Miami), Speech or Conduct: The Free Speech Claims of Wedding Vendors, Emory L.J. (forthcoming)

Abstract:     

As LGBT rights have expanded, so have claims by businesses that public accommodation laws banning sexual orientation discrimination violate their free speech rights. In particular, wedding vendors such as bakers and photographers claim that forcing them to serve LGBT customers compels them to express approval of same-sex marriage — something contrary to their religious beliefs. The question addressed by this Article is not whether public accommodations laws ultimately violate the Free Speech Clause, but whether they even require free speech review. In other words, is baking a cake for a same-sex wedding or photographing the bride-and-bride “speech” triggering free speech scrutiny?

Both bakers and photographers raise compelled expressive conduct claims, a little analyzed category. Given the context of a business open to the public selling a service, the bakers’ claim that baking a cake is expressive conduct ought to be rejected. The photographers’ claim is more complicated: because photography is a traditional mode of communication, the claim raises the additional question of whether conduct involving words or images necessarily amounts to speech that is covered by the Free Speech Clause.

 

May 13, 2016 in Constitutional | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Annette Gordon-Reed on Becoming a Lawyer and Historian

Last Lecture: Annette Gordon-Reed Traces Her Journey from Texas Childhood to Lawyer and Historian

[After working as a lawyer] she finally decided to enter academia. She felt, she said, that moment “was the only shot I had to be able to write, to be able to think about issues, to be able to use all of the things that I had been thinking about up to this moment—to be thinking about society, to be writing about society in a way that I thought would be useful.”

 

“Law is important. Obviously I believe that. But the kinds of human relations, the kinds of things we’re talking about in both of these books, transcend it,” Gordon-Reed said. “Sometimes you have to look beyond it, because the law is not put in place for everybody, is not made to work for everybody. It’s our hope that we can try to make it work for everybody, but the historian understands that there are moments when that just was not the case, and slavery was one of them."

May 12, 2016 in Books, Legal History, Women lawyers | Permalink | Comments (0)

New MD Contraceptive Equity Act Insures Coverage of Birth Control

NWLC Blog, Victory for Birth Control in Maryland

The Maryland Contraceptive Equity Act of 2016 makes sure that women have insurance coverage of the specific birth control that their health care provider prescribes without out-of-pocket costs and requires insurance plans to cover up to six months of birth control dispensed at once....

 

While the federal Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) birth control benefit eliminated many cost barriers to birth control, even women eligible for this benefit may face difficulties getting coverage without cost of the specific birth control recommended by their health care providers.

 

That is because the ACA requires coverage without out-of-pocket costs of at least one item within each birth control method category for women, but plans can still use medical management techniques within a birth control method category, such as imposing costs on some pills while covering others without cost. Women often go without preventive health care because of costs, even small costs.  So, if a plan is still charging for the specific birth control a woman has chosen with her health care provider, that cost can be a barrier to accessing the care she needs.  The Maryland Contraceptive Equity Act of 2016 ensures that women have coverage without cost-sharing of the specific birth control recommended by their health care provider, facilitating women’s access to birth control and enabling them to use it more consistently.

May 12, 2016 in Healthcare, Legislation, Reproductive Rights | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Study Documents Title IX's Significant Shift from a Law for Athletics to a Law for Sexual Harassment

Celene Reyolds, The Mobilization of Title IX in Colleges and Universities, 1994-2014      

Abstract:

Title IX has been widely recognized as a crucial step toward gender equality in America. Yet it remains unclear how the law actually functions, particularly how it has been used in response to gender disparities in higher education. This article provides the first systematic analysis of how Title IX has been mobilized at the postsecondary level. Drawing on new data acquired through seven Freedom of Information Act requests, I analyze all resolved Title IX complaints filed with the Office of Civil Rights against four-year nonprofit colleges and universities from 1994 to 2014 (N=6,654). I find that the mobilization of Title IX has changed both in frequency and in kind during this period. Filings started to rise after 2000 and exploded after 2009, while sexual harassment complaints nearly equaled academic and athletic filings for the first time in 2014. Finally, despite the egalitarian design of the complaint process, private schools and more selective schools face a disproportionate number of complaints relative to enrollment, indicating the power of institutions in mediating legal mobilization.

Introduction: 


Title IX, the U.S. civil rights law that prohibits sex discrimination in federally funded education programs, has been called one of the most significant steps toward gender equality in the last century. Yet research on how the law has been used in response to perceived gender disparities in the academy is lacking. There are recent indications that the mobilization of Title IX—in the form of complaints filed against allegedly noncompliant colleges and universities with the Office of Civil Rights (OCR), the primary federal administrative agency responsible for implementing the law—has both increased dramatically and shifted from an emphasis on fostering gender equity in athletics to policing sexual harassment and assault on campus. But there has been no comprehensive analysis of this shift, or of the law’s mobilization more generally, and therefore we have little sense of if and how it took place. How has Title IX been mobilized to combat gender inequalities in higher education? Is it deployed broadly or only to address some forms of sex discrimination in certain types of institutions? Is its use consistent or contradictory?

 

This paper provides the first systematic analysis of how Title IX has been mobilized at the postsecondary level over the last two decades. I draw from a new data set I constructed using information acquired through seven Freedom of Information Act requests filed over 18 months. The data include all resolved postsecondary Title IX complaints filed with OCR against allegedly noncompliant schools from 1994 to 2014. Using these data, I seek to rigorously map the phenomenon. . . . 


I find that over the last two decades the number of Title IX complaints filed against four year nonprofit institutions skyrockets in 1999 and again starting in 2013. Individuals engaged in mass filings are responsible for both spikes. Net of this effect, I find that the number of Title IX complaints has trended upward since 2000, exploding after 2009 and reaching a record high in 2014. Complaints citing discrimination in academics were the modal type of complaint filed for most of the last 20 years, until 2014 when sexual harassment, academics, and athletics complaints reached near parity. I also find that the mobilization of Title IX is institutionally uneven: relative to overall enrollment, a disproportionate number of complaints are filed against private, more selective institutions located in states with high numbers of women serving in state legislatures.

May 11, 2016 in Education, Violence Against Women | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

New in Books: Nine to Five

Joanna Grossman (Hofstra/SMU), Nine to Five: How Gender, Sex, and Sexuality Continue to Define the American Workplace (Cambridge University Press, May 2016)

At the heart of this collection is a basic question: What is sex discrimination? The answer may seem obvious, but, in truth, it is complicated. Are all classifications on the basis of gender discriminatory, or are there times or places when sex differentiation, or even sex segregation, are permissible or desirable? Should seemingly benign classifications be prohibited because they might perpetuate damaging stereotypes and gender subordination? If so, when?

Check out the terrific Table of Contents showing an engaging style and wide range of issues covered in this new book.

May 10, 2016 in Books, Equal Employment | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, May 9, 2016

Poll Shows 51 Percent of US Women have Personally Experienced Gender-Based Discrimination

Poll: Majority of Women in US Have Experienced Gender-Based Discrimination

  • The results show that a majority, 51 percent, of women have personally experienced discrimination based on their gender, and 35 percent said they have not experienced gender-based discrimination. A majority of women, 51 percent, also said society has not yet reached the point where women and men have equal opportunities for achievement                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        
  • The data also show some interesting splits when examined in detail by partisanship. The percentage of Democratic women who said they've experienced discrimination on the basis of their race was 23 points higher than the percentage of Republican women who said so - 62 percent to 39 percent. Among Independent women, 46 percent said they've personally experienced gender-based discrimination.
  • Just under half, 49 percent, of Republican women said society has reached the point where women and men have equal opportunities for achievement. Among Independent women, 36 percent said women and men have equal opportunities. In contrast, a little over a quarter, 27 percent, of Democratic women agreed that society allows for equal opportunity for both genders. These findings show that Republican and Democratic women have starkly different experiences and perspectives on where society stands on the matter of gender equality.

May 9, 2016 in Media, Pop Culture | Permalink | Comments (0)

Female Attorneys Punished More Severely for Ethical Violations Than Male Attorneys

Jessica Kennedy, Mary-Hunter McDonnell, Nicole Stephens, Does Gender Raise the Ethical Bar? Exploring the Punishment of Ethical Violations at Work

Abstract:     

We investigate whether women are targets of more severe punishment than men following ethical violations at work. Using an experimental design, Study 1 finds evidence that ethical behavior is more strongly prescribed for women than for men, even when they occupy an identical professional role. Study 2 manipulates the gender of a manager in a hypothetical scenario and finds that women are punished more severely than men for ethical violations at work. It also tests the scope of our theory by asking whether women are punished more for errors in general, or only for intentional ethical violations. Using field data, Study 3 examines how severely attorneys are punished for violating the American Bar Association’s ethical rules. Female attorneys are punished more severely than male attorneys, after accounting for a variety of factors. Greater representation of women among decision-makers diminishes the gender disparity in punishment. Our research documents a new prescriptive stereotype faced by women and helps to explain the persistence of gender disparities in organizations. It highlights punishment severity as a novel mechanism by which institutions may derail women’s careers more than men’s.

 

Takeaway: "People expect women to be more ethical than men."

May 9, 2016 in Women lawyers | Permalink | Comments (0)