Gender and the Law Prof Blog

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

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Male Speakers Vastly Outnumber Female Speakers in College Department Talks

On College Campuses, Male Speakers Vastly Outnumber Female Speakers, Report Finds

Top college campuses were far more likely to host male professors to speak in department talks than female professors, according to new research led by a Rice University graduate student.

 

The scholars tracked speakers at 3,652 talks in the 2013-14 academic year in biology, bioengineering, history, political science, psychology and sociology departments at top-ranked schools.

 

Nearly 70 percent of those talks were delivered by male professors, the research found, even as a random sampling of professors appeared equally motivated to deliver talks, regardless of gender. The authors also controlled for higher rates of men than women in higher education.

 

"Different preferences between men and women did not seem to be responsible for the gender discrepancy in colloquium talks," said Christine Nittrouer, a psychology graduate student at Rice who led the research, in a press release.

 

Talks were more likely to include a female speaker when a female chair organized the event, the research found.

February 14, 2018 in Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Being Mary Beard

Guardian, The Cult of Mary Beard

I've found myself a part of the cult of Mary Beard, impressed by her model of how to be a professor.  

Everyone who has met Beard seems to have a story about encountering her for the first time – usually involving her rigorous intellect, her total lack of formality, and her sense of mischief.

 

In public, in private and in her academic writing she is skeptical, wary of consensus, the kind of person who will turn any question back on itself and examine it from an unexpected angle. She is not afraid to take apart her own work:

 

The learned but approachable figure you see on TV translating Latin inscriptions, carving up a pizza to explain the division of the Roman empire, or arguing about public services on Question Time, is precisely the Beard you encounter in private, except that in real life, she swears magnificently and often.

 

Beard is a celebrity, a national treasure, and easily the world’s most famous classicist. Her latest book, Women and Power, about the long history of the silencing of female voices, was a Christmas bestseller on both sides of the Atlantic. In the eight years since her debut TV documentary, Pompeii, she has conquered the small screen. She is one of a trio of presenters who will, in March, front Civilisations – a new, big-budget version of Kenneth Clark’s 1969 series Civilisation, the most revered cultural TV series in the BBC’s history.

 

As recently as a decade ago, it would have seemed unlikely, even outlandish, that a middle-aged classics don, her appearance a million miles away from the groomed perfection expected of women in the public sphere, would end up so famous and, by and large, so loved.

 

Since then, Beard has become a standard-bearer for middle-aged women, and beloved by the young – indeed, by anyone who wants to be seen in terms of their ideas, not their looks; anyone who think it’s cool to be smart; and by those who relentlessly ask questions and never reject a contrary opinion out of hand. Beard’s intellectual style, which suffuses all her scholarship – a commitment to rigorous scepticism that refuses to be cynical – has made her a model for those who worry that the shouting and bullying of the digital world make reasoned political debate impossible.

 

Her career stands, in a way, as a corrective to the notion that life runs a smooth, logical path. “It’s a lesson to all of those guys – some of whom are my mates,” she said, remembering the colleagues who once whispered that she had squandered her talent. “I now think: ‘Up yours. Up yours, actually.’ Because people’s careers go in very different trajectories and at very different speeds. Some people get lapped after an early sprint.” She added softly, with a wicked grin: “I know who you are, boys.”

 

Beard describes herself as academically “flighty”. Instead of burrowing into one small area – a single Latin author, for example, or Roman religion in a given period – she has darted between topics; and, perhaps because of her gregarious nature, has preferred those topics not to be especially obscure. ...This eclecticism has given her the means to range widely through the ancient world in her public work. So has the fact that her scholarship has been relatively mainstream, rather than at the bleeding edge of academic fashion. 

Her full story is well worth the read.

February 1, 2018 in Education, Work/life | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, January 29, 2018

Dept of Education Sued for Reversal of Policy for Campus Sexual Assault

Betsy Devos Sued for Weakening Sexual Assault Reporting Protections for Sexual Assault

Three civil rights organizations have filed a lawsuit against Education Secretary Betsy DeVos for rolling back protections for students who report sexual assault.

 

SurvJustice, which helps university women report assault, joined with Equal Rights Advocates and the Victim Rights Law Center to file the suit, which argues that the changes are discriminatory, violate federal law and are having a “chilling effect” on assault reports. In addition, schools are either not responding to the fewer complaints or not taking action as quickly, according to the suit.

 

The suit was filed Thursday in the Northern District of California against DeVos, the Department of Education and Candice Jackson, acting assistant secretary for civil rights at the department.

 

The suit argues that DeVos and Jackson hold “discriminatory stereotypes” about women and are convinced that many who report sexual abuse or assault “misunderstood a harmless romantic advance,” are lying or later regretted a “consensual sexual encounter.” 

This “discriminatory mindset not only motivated decision makers at the department, it flows from the top of the Executive Branch,” the complaint adds, referring to President Donald Trump.

 

DeVos issued a new policy in September increasing protections for those accused of sexual assault in kindergarten through college. She said that the Obama administration hadn’t ensured the rights of the accused and moved to adopt what she termed “fundamental fairness.” Shortly before the changes, DeVos called the 2011 Obama-era policies addressing campus sexual assault “shameful” and “wholly un-American.” 

 

She raised the standard of proof for accusers from a “preponderance of evidence” to “clear and convincing evidence.” The new guidelines also allowed even cases of sexual assault to be settled by mediation.

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is Sued Over Sexual Assault Guidance

Victims’ rights and women’s rights groups sued Education Secretary Betsy DeVos on Thursday, saying that rules that she issued last year to guide campuses on how to manage sexual assault complaints violated federal law and discriminated against accusers.

 

Three organizations, represented by prominent civil rights litigators, filed a complaint in the Northern District of California outlining ways that the guidance issued by Ms. DeVos in the fall had had a “chilling effect” on campus sexual assault investigations.

 

Since the guidance was issued, the groups charged, accusers have been less inclined to pursue sexual assault cases, and colleges have demonstrated a lack of urgency and clarity in pursuing them.

 

In September, Ms. DeVos rescinded Obama-era guidance on how colleges should manage the investigations under Title IX, the federal law that prohibits sex discrimination and governs the rules on investigating sexual assault on campus.

January 29, 2018 in Education, Violence Against Women | Permalink | Comments (1)

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Study Finds Female Professors Experience More Work Demands and Special Favor Requests

Dancing Backwards in High Heels: Study finds female professors experience more work demands and special favor requests, particularly from academically "entitled" students.

Numerous studies have found that female professors shoulder a disproportionate amount of service work compared to their male peers. Research also suggests that students hold female instructors to a different standard than they do male faculty members, especially when it comes to personality. Women are expected to be more nurturing and are perceived harshly when they’re not, for example.

 

Both sets of findings matter because they have negative implications for women’s professional success: service is generally the least valued criterion in the tenure and promotion triad of research, teaching and service, and students who view female professors as unfriendly may rate their teaching poorly as a result.

 

Both lines of inquiry also intersect in a new paper, which says that students request more special favors and friendship behaviors from their female professors than they do of men -- resulting in more actual work demands and emotional labor. The paper also suggests that "academically entitled" students more strongly expect that women will grant their favor requests than will male professors, and that they react strongly when women deny those requests.

 

“If students set higher standards for their female professors, it is more difficult for female professors to meet student expectations, perhaps resulting in poorer course evaluations, and putting more work demands and emotional strain on female professors,” lead author Amani El-Alayli, an associate professor of psychology at Eastern Washington University, said Tuesday. “Female professors may consequently be more likely to experience burnout and low job satisfaction than their male counterparts.”

 

All of this could interfere with female professors' likelihood of success within academe, El-Alayli said. If women feel more emotional strain, spend more time dealing with student requests, have more disgruntled students, get lower course evaluations and have less time for research activities or class preparation because of the extra demands placed on them, she added, “then their chance of getting promoted may be reduced.”

 

The paper, published in Sex Roles, is called “Dancing Backwards in High Heels: Female Professors Experience More Work Demands and Special Favor Requests, Particularly From Academically Entitled Students.” (“Dancing backwards” is a reference to a comment once made about Ginger Rogers doing everything her onscreen partner Fred Astaire did, just backward, in high heels.) ***

 

In any case, Misra argued, the root of the problem is that people view women as “helpers” and men as “doers,” which she “has a tremendously negative effect on the careers of academic women, who either engage in helping behaviors -- and spend less time on more valued work -- or do not, and are viewed as selfish or not team players, even when their men colleagues are similarly less likely to engage in helping behavior but face no consequences.”

January 23, 2018 in Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Student Evaluations are Significantly Biased Against Female Instructors

Student Evaluations of Teaching are not Just Unreliable, But Significantly Biased Against Female Instructors

But to what extent do SET measure what universities expect them to measure—teaching effectiveness?

 

To answer this question, we apply nonparametric permutation tests to data from a natural experiment at a French university (the original study by Anne Boring is here), and a randomized, controlled, blind experiment in the US (the original study by Lillian MacNell, Adam Driscoll and Andrea N. Hunt is here). We confirm and extend the studies’ main conclusion: Student evaluations of teaching (SET) are strongly associated with the gender of the instructor. Female instructors receive lower scores than male instructors. SET are also significantly correlated with students’ grade expectations: students who expect to get higher grades give higher SET, on average. But SET are not strongly associated with learning outcomes.

***

 

Why don’t universities use better methods? SET are the familiar devil. Habits are hard to change. Alternatives (reviewing teaching materials, peer observation, surveying past students, and others) are more expensive and time-consuming, and this cost falls on faculty and administrators rather than on students. The mere fact that SET are numerical gives them an un-earned air of scientific precision and reliability. And reducing the complexity of teaching to a single (albeit meaningless) number makes it possible to compare teachers. This might seem useful to administrators, but it is a gross over-simplification of teaching quality.

 

The sign of any connection between SET and teaching effectiveness is murky, whereas the associations between SET and grade expectations and between SET and instructor gender are clear and significant. Because SET are evidently biased against women (and likely against other underrepresented and protected groups)—and worse, do not reliably measure teaching effectiveness—the onus should be on universities either to abandon SET for employment decisions or to prove that their reliance on SET does not have disparate impact.

January 23, 2018 in Education, Gender | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, January 22, 2018

The Need for Gender Quotas in Irish Higher Education Institutions

Dr. Shivaun Quinlivan, Disrupting the Status Quo? Discrimination in Academic Promotions, 14 Irish Employment J. 68 (2017)

In June 2016 the HEA Report of the Expert Group: HEA National Review of Gender Equality in Higher Education Institutions (Gender Equality Review p.11) reported and stated that there was a need for “radical action” without which they could not guarantee that Higher Education Institutes (HEIs) would “ever be free of gender inequality”. This report was commissioned in the aftermath of the now high profile case of Sheehy Skeffington v National University of Ireland Galway (DEC-E2014-078) (hereinafter NUI Galway) and the controversy surrounding this decision. This article addresses the decision in Sheehy Skeffington v NUI Galway, the fallout from that decision and the recommendations of the Gender Equality Review as regards recruitment and promotion. In particular, this article looks at that recommendation considered most radical, yet also considered necessary, namely the introduction of mandatory gender quotas. This article seeks to assess why it was deemed necessary for the Expert Review Group to recommend the introduction of mandatory quotas and to posit the question: what happens if the HEIs do not comply with that recommendation?

January 22, 2018 in Education, Equal Employment, International | Permalink | Comments (0)

Title IX at 45: Equal Treatment of Students in High School School Athletic Programs

Susan Eckes, Title IX at 45: Equal Treatment of Students in High School Athletic Programs, 25 Amer. J. Gender, Social Policy & Law 391 (2017)

It is the 45th anniversary of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, and some high schools continue to struggle with their compliance in athletics by showing a preference for boys’ athletic programs. A 2015 report issued by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (“OCR”) indicated that there were 3,609 complaints related to athletics in 2013-2014. While much of the litigation in this area has traditionally addressed high school accommodation claims, more recent litigation has begun to also focus on equal treatment claims that might include scheduling or facility disparities involving athletics. For example, in April 2016, ten female softball players sued under Title IX in federal court in Portland, Oregon. In this complaint, the plaintiff’s sought injunctive relief to remedy the inequities that exist between the softball and baseball team facilities. Others have filed complaints with the U.S. Department of Education (“ED”) regarding similar inequalities. In Canton, Ohio a father filed a complaint with the ED arguing that the girls’ softball team did not have equitable facilities when compared to those of the boys’ team. Specifically, the girls went eight seasons without a home field whereas the boys only went two seasons without a home field. Likewise, in Lexington, South Carolina parents filed a complaint with the ED related to unfairness involving facilities between the boys’ baseball team and girls’ softball team.

 

In recent years, several courts have addressed these issues regarding the multitude of inequalities between male and female sports. In these lawsuits, female plaintiffs or their parents typically allege violations of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 and/or the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment when the athletic facilities are inadequate or the athletic team’s schedules are inopportune.10 Because K-12 athletic programs have received increased scrutiny from the courts in recent years, this article explores litigation involving high school athletic programs that focus on disparities with facilities and schools in an effort to highlight the existing legal obligations of school districts.11 It concludes with some suggestions for school officials to create more parallel athletic environments.

January 22, 2018 in Education, Sports | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

10th Circuit Rejects First Amendment Challenge by Student Expelled for Social Media Comments after Sexual Misconduct

Yeasin v. Durham, 10th Cir., Jan. 5, 2018

Dr. Tammara Durham, the Vice Provost for Student Affairs at the University of Kansas, expelled Navid Yeasin from the university after finding that by physically restraining and later tweeting indirectly but disparagingly about his ex-girlfriend, he had violated the university's student code of conduct and sexual-harassment policy. After Yeasin sued Dr. Durham in Kansas state court, the university reinstated him. Yeasin then sued Dr. Durham in federal court, asserting a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 based on his First Amendment right to freedom of speech and his Fourteenth Amendment right to substantive due process. He argued that Dr. Durham had violated these rights when she expelled him for his off-campus online speech. Dr. Durham successfully moved to dismiss Yeasin's complaint based on qualified immunity. Yeasin appealed. Exercising jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1291, we affirm.

 

Yeasin and A.W. dated from the fall of 2012 through June 2013. On June 28, 2013, Yeasin physically restrained A.W. in his car, took her phone from her, threatened to commit suicide if she broke up with him, threatened to spread rumors about her, and threatened to make the University of Kansas's “campus environment so hostile, [that she] would not attend any university in the state of Kansas.” .

 

For this conduct, Kansas charged Yeasin with criminal restraint, battery, and criminal deprivation of property. On July 25, 2013, A.W. sought and obtained a protection order against Yeasin from the Johnson County District Court. The order was “entered by consent without any findings of abuse.”  In August 2013, Yeasin entered a diversion agreement with the state on these charges. Yeasin v. Univ. of Kansas, 360 P.3d 423, 424 (Kan. Ct. App. 2015).

 

That same month, A.W. filed a complaint against Yeasin with the university's Office of Institutional Opportunity and Access (IOA), alleging that Yeasin had sexually harassed her.... Then, “[a]fter considering the Johnson County District Court's final protection from abuse order,” the IOA decided to issue Yeasin a no-contact order. 

 

The no-contact order informed Yeasin that the university had “received information concerning an allegation that [he] may have violated the University's Sexual Harassment Policy in interactions with University of Kansas student [A.W.].” The letter also put Yeasin on notice that he was “prohibited from initiating, or contributing through third-parties, to any physical, verbal, electronic, or written communication with [A.W.], her family, her friends or her associates.” 

 

After Yeasin received the no-contact order, he tweeted the following messages on August 15, August 23, and September 5 . . . .  On September 6, 2013, Brooks e-mailed Yeasin the following warning: While your August 23rd tweet does not specifically state the name of your ex-girlfriend, this communication is in violation of the No Contact Order. I am writing to you to clarify that any reference made on social media regarding [A.W.], even if the communication is not sent to her or [does not] state her name specifically, it is a violation of the No Contact Order.

 

All told, Yeasin posted fourteen tweets referring to A.W. without specifically naming her; of these, three were posted after the IOA e-mailed Yeasin and told him to stop.

 

On October 7, 2013, the IOA issued an investigative report concluding that Yeasin had sexually harassed A.W. in violation of university policy by physically restraining her during the June 28, 2013 incident and by posting the fourteen tweets....

 

Dr. Durham said her decision was based on several facts supported by the preponderance of the evidence, such as the Johnson County protection order and A.W.'s hearing statement that “her grades had slipped significantly during the summer because of the emotional toll her interactions with Mr. Yeasin had taken on her.” Dr. Durham further relied on A.W.'s statement to the hearing panel that her relationship with Yeasin had “affected her day-to-day on-campus activities, since she [couldn't] enter public campus places without receiving glares and remarks from Yeasin's friends telling her she needs to leave and that her presence is unwanted.”  

 

On these bases, Dr. Durham found that Yeasin's June 28, 2013 conduct and his tweets were “so severe, pervasive and objectively offensive that it interfered with [A.W.]'s academic performance and equal opportunity to participate in or benefit from University programs or activities.” She found that his tweets violated the sexual-harassment policy because they were “unwelcome comments about [A.W.]'s body.” And she found that his conduct “threatened the physical health, safety and welfare of [A.W.], making the conduct a violation of Article 22, A. 1 of the Code.” 

 

As a result of his conduct, Dr. Durham decided to expel Yeasin from the university and ban him from campus. 

 

 Yeasin contested his expulsion in Kansas state court. The court set aside Yeasin's expulsion, reasoning that the hearing panel's findings, adopted by Dr. Durham, “were not supported by substantial evidence.”  The court also determined that “KU and [Dr.] Durham erroneously interpreted the Student Code of Conduct by applying it to off-campus conduct.” 

 

DISCUSSION

 

Yeasin's case presents interesting questions regarding the tension between some students' free-speech rights and other students' Title IX rights to receive an education absent sex discrimination in the form of sexual harassment. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights Dear Colleague Letter on Sexual Violence (OCR Sexual Violence DCL), April 4, 2011 (:Sexual harassment of students, which includes acts of sexual violence, is a form of sex discrimination prohibited by Title IX.”). But even if Yeasin could show that Dr. Durham violated his First Amendment rights, we conclude that he has failed to show a violation of clearly established law. We don't decide whether Yeasin had a First Amendment right to post his tweets without being disciplined by the university.

January 10, 2018 in Education, Violence Against Women | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Study Finds Women Professors Get More Grief from Students

Female Professors Get More Grief From Students, Study Finds

Research from Eastern Washington University has found that women working in education are more often requested to give extensions, boost grades and be more lenient when it comes to classroom policy.

 

"I always found it odd that students would sometimes have emotional responses to me simply enforcing my own policy, and I always wondered why that was," said Amani El-Alayli, a psychology professor at Eastern Washington University and the study's lead author.

 

She said standard policies like not sending PowerPoint slides to students, denying retests and not including extra credit or grade-boosting projects would be met with irritation or persistent nagging.

 

"Students wouldn't take no as an answer … I always suspected that gender could play a role, and it seems that maybe it does," El-Alayli told Early Edition host Stephen Quinn.

 

Students turned to their female professors expecting favours, and the effect of the requests seemed to take an emotional toll on top of adding to their workload.

 

Overall, El-Alayli found that more is expected from female professors but evidence from the students who participated in the study suggests gender bias isn't a conscious decision.

 

"We believe that it's because women in general are expected to be more empathetic, more nurturing, more likely to be helpers, to assume a nurturing role."

 

"People generally have that perception of women, and they also have that expectation of women, so we think that that translates into the classroom as well."

 

This means more hours spent in the office and more time sifting through emails, even if requests aren't granted.

January 9, 2018 in Education, Gender | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, January 4, 2018

German Institute Creates Women-Only Tenure-Track Positions

Max Plank Institutes Create Research Positions Which Only Women May Apply

Germany’s Max Planck Society of research institutes has launched a women-only program of tenure-track positions to improve its gender balance and stop rivals poaching its best female scientists.

 

The Lise Meitner excellence program, named after the pioneering early-20th-century physicist, is one of several women-only hiring initiatives that some observers believe are becoming more common while the proportion of women in top research positions remains stubbornly low.

 

Backed by more than 30 million euros ($35.5 million), the society will create up to 10 five-year research group leader positions annually for the next four years. Unlike the network’s previous women-only initiative to recruit group leaders, which ended in 2015, these positions will be on the tenure track, meaning that recipients get the chance to make their positions permanent at the end of the period.

 

Grietje Molema, president of the Dutch Network of Women Professors and a professor at the University of Groningen, said that women-only programs were getting more common in Europe and called the move by Max Planck a “good step forward.”

“Affirmative action” was an “essential part” of tackling the underrepresentation of women in research, she said.

The concern is if these positions become the only positions for which women are practically considered.

January 4, 2018 in Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Men Invited to Give Twice as Many Academic Talks as Women--and its not Because Women Turn them Down or That There Aren't Enough Qualified Women

Women are Invited to Give Fewer Talks than Men at Top US Universities

Colloquium talks, where academics are invited to discuss their research, give speakers a chance to publicize their work, build collaborations with new colleagues, and boost their reputations. The talks can lead to promotions or job offers. They are big opportunities. But as Hebl’s student Christine Nittrouereventually found, they are opportunities that are predominantly extended to men.

 

Nittrouer and her team scanned the websites of the top 50 U.S. universities, as ranked by U.S. News, to build a database of every colloquium speaker from six departments: biology, bioengineering, political science, history, psychology, and sociology. They chose those six to represent a breadth of disciplines, and to exclude departments with either a very low or very high proportion of women. And they found that men gave more than twice as many talks as women: 69 percent versus 31 percent.

 

That result should not be too surprising. Several studies have shown that menoutnumber women among the speakers of several scientific conferences. There’s even a site that collates examples of all-male panels.

 

Why does this happen? Hebl accounted for several of what she calls “yeah-but explanations,” which underplay these figures as the result of anything other than discriminatory biases. For example, some might argue that men outnumber women in many fields, and so any equitable selection process would naturally lead to more male speakers. But the team estimated the full pool of available speakers by counting every professor in their six chosen fields at each of the top 100 U.S. universities. And even after adjusting for the relative numbers of men and women in the various fields or ranks, they found that men are still 20 percent more likely to be invited to give colloquium talks than women.

 

Skeptics might also argue that the problem is a generational one: Science, for instance, has historically been skewed toward men, and when colloquia committees decide whom to invite, they’re prisoners of that history. But if that were true, and the arc of academia was slowly bending toward equality, then when assistant and associate professors—who are younger and more junior than full professors—are selected to give talks, the gender difference should be narrower. Hebl’s team found no such trend. “The people in whom we should see more parity aren’t showing us more parity,” she says.

 
“People sometime say: You know what? Maybe it’s the women,” says Hebl. “Maybe they don’t want to give talks, or they’re declining because they’re staying home with their kids.” That’s not what she found when she surveyed 186 professors who didn’t give colloquium talk at prestigious universities, but were in the same departments as those who did. Their answers clearly showed that women don’t decline colloquium invitations more than men, that they feel just as strongly that these talks are important for their careers, and that they’re no more likely to decline such talks because of family obligations.

 

“This dispels the widely held myth that women are less frequent speakers because they travel less,” says Jo Handelsman, from the University of Wisconsin at Madison. “Clearly, we need to test such assumptions before we absolve ourselves of culpability in creating biased slates.”

 

“Despite their presence in departments, women are not being asked to contribute to the intellectual development of their fields in the most coveted ways,” says Robin Nelson, from Santa Clara University, who has studied the prevalence of harassment in science. “This gendered discrimination minimizes women’s visible contributions to their fields, validating the idea that the greatest intellectual contributions are made by a few brilliant men.”

 

“We can account for all the yeah-buts,” Hebl says, “but we still have this bias, and we need to do something about it.”

 
 One solution is to give women more power over inviting colloquium speakers. The team found that when those committees are chaired by women, half of the invited speakers are women; that’s compared to just 30 percent when the committees are chaired by men.

December 19, 2017 in Conferences, Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, November 27, 2017

Symposium on the Jurisprudential Legacy of Judge Constance Baker Motley, the First Black Woman Federal Judge

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Judge Grants Summary Judgment in College's Favor in Case Over Expulsion for Sexual Misconduct

Judge Tosses Suit Against Colgate University Over Expulsion for Sexual Misconduct

A lawsuit filed by an anonymous former student claiming that Colgate University unlawfully expelled him in his senior year based on accusations of sexual abuse by three female students was dismissed Wednesday by a federal judge for the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York.

 

U.S. District Judge Lawrence Kahn  granted the small liberal arts university in Hamilton summary judgment with respect to each cause of action in the lawsuit brought on by John Doe in August 2015, Doe v. Colgate University, 5:15-cv-1069.

 
 The plaintiff’s attorney said he planned to appeal the ruling to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.

 

The anonymous plaintiff in the lawsuit attended the university from 2011 until he was expelled during his senior year in April 2015, after being found responsible for three instances of sexual misconduct against the unnamed students that occurred during the 2011-12 academic year. He  contended the touching was consensual and not reported to college officials until much later.  The plaintiff alleges that in his expulsion, Colgate University violated Title IX—a federal law that prohibits sex-based discrimination in education—and the state’s Human Rights Law. The plaintiff also claimed that the university was in breach of contract, breach of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing, violated the New York General Business Law, as well as demonstrated liability based on equitable estoppel theory and was negligent.

 

Kahn granted the plaintiff anonymity in April 2016 after a magistrate judge had earlier denied the request. The plaintiff successfully argued that the potential harm he faced outweighed the public’s interest in his being identified.

 

In his decision released Tuesday, Kahn wrote that the plaintiff “fails to provide sufficient evidence that gender bias motivated Colgate’s decision to expel him.”

 

The plaintiff had argued that the school was biased in favor of women due to student activism and the reaction to what occurred in Columbia University, when a female student carried a mattress throughout  the campus after an inquiry by the university found a lack of evidence that she was raped by a male student. The plaintiff also claimed that Colgate’s investigation was tainted because the primary investigator, Val Brogan, once worked in the Abused Persons Unit at the Onondaga County Sheriff’s Department, and  might be biased against men.

November 15, 2017 in Education, Violence Against Women | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, November 13, 2017

Feminist Student Organization Loses Challenge against University for Cyberbulling on Yik Yak

The decision in Feminist Majority Foundation v. University of Mary Washington, 2017 Wl 4158787 (E.D. Va. Sept. 19, 2017)

This case arises from the cyberbullying of a student-run feminist organization at the University of Mary Washington (“UMW”). The cyberbullying occurred primarily through a social media smartphone application called Yik Yak. Yik Yak allowed users to anonymously share messages—called “yaks”—with other users within a certain radius (e.g., with users at or around UMW). Other users could then anonymously comment on yaks or could vote up or down on the yaks. During the 2014–2015 school year, users on Yik Yak harassed the plaintiffs by posting insulting, derogatory, and threatening yaks. The plaintiffs complained to UMW about the harassment, and eventually filed a complaint against UMW under Title IX.
 
The plaintiffs have now sued UMW, along with its current and former presidents, for violations of Title IX and the Equal Protection Clause. The defendants have moved to dismiss. Because UMW has limited, if any, control over Yik Yak, the plaintiffs' Title IX discrimination claim fails. Their Title IX retaliation claim fails because UMW took no retaliatory action against the plaintiffs. Finally, because no constitutional violation occurred, let alone a clearly establish or continuing violation, the plaintiffs have not stated claims under the Equal Protection Clause. Accordingly, the Court will grant the defendants' motion to dismiss

Commentary at Court Rejects Feminist Majority Foundation's Demand that Public University Block Access to Yik Yak

November 13, 2017 in Education, Pop Culture | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, November 10, 2017

New Hot Topic Announced for AALS: Rethinking Campus Response to Sexual Violence

AALS Hot Topic Programs

Rethinking Campus Response to Sexual Violence: Betsy DeVos, Title IX, and the Continuing Search for Access to Justice
Friday, January 5, 2018 from 8:30 -10:15 am

Moderator:

  • Hannah Brenner, California Western School of Law

Speakers:

  • Mary M. Penrose, Texas A&M University School of Law
  • Verna Williams, University of Cincinnati College of Law
  • Cory Rayburn Young, University of Kansas School of Law
  • Nancy Chi Cantalupo, Barry University Dwayne O. Andreas School of Law
  • Ben Trachtenberg, University of Missouri School of Law

The Trump Administration recently revised the Title IX process addressing sexual violence on college campuses. These revisions, coupled with a Sixth Circuit decision finding due process protections lacking in a university’s Title IX hearing, underscore the importance of ensuring that both victims and accused receive access to justice following allegations of sexual violence. Against the backdrop of these and other current events, this panel considers strategies for rethinking the response from a legal access to justice perspective. As lawyers and legal academics, this topic is important to us, our students, institutions, and society as we strive to find balance between the rights of victims and accused. The voices on this panel offer diverse viewpoints regarding Title IX’s role in addressing sexual violence. Panelists will discuss necessary protections for those bringing claims of sexual violence to ensure fair resolution that causes limited harm to these individuals and their educational opportunities, and protections for those accused of perpetrating sexual violence, recognizing that consequences may extend far beyond the classroom. We challenge attendees to return to their campuses and respectfully engage one another to find meaningful solutions to an issue that, thus far, has failed to adequately guarantee access to justice for all.

For other programs coming up at AALS, see Law and Gender Programs at AALS 2018

November 10, 2017 in Conferences, Education, Violence Against Women | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Relationship Status Discrimination Against Women in Academic Hiring

Lauren Rivera, When Two Bodies are (Not) a Problem: Gender and Relationship Status Discrimination in Academic Hiring, Amer. Soc. Rev. (Oct. 25, 2017)

Junior faculty search committees serve as gatekeepers to the professoriate and play vital roles in shaping the demographic composition of academic departments and disciplines, but how committees select new hires has received minimal scholarly attention. In this article, I highlight one mechanism of gender inequalities in academic hiring: relationship status discrimination. Through a qualitative case study of junior faculty search committees at a large R1 university, I show that committees actively considered women’s—but not men’s—relationship status when selecting hires. Drawing from gendered scripts of career and family that present men’s careers as taking precedence over women’s, committee members assumed that heterosexual women whose partners held academic or high-status jobs were not “movable,” and excluded such women from offers when there were viable male or single female alternatives. Conversely, committees infrequently discussed male applicants’ relationship status and saw all female partners as movable. Consequently, I show that the “two-body problem” is a gendered phenomenon embedded in cultural stereotypes and organizational practices that can disadvantage women in academic hiring. I conclude by discussing the implications of such relationship status discrimination for sociological research on labor market inequalities and faculty diversity.

October 31, 2017 in Education, Equal Employment, Family, Workplace | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, October 13, 2017

As Law School Hiring Season Begins, a Look at Gender Bias in the Academy

As hiring season in U.S. law schools is upon us, a few posts today on gender bias in the academy.

Virginia Valia, Beyond Gender Schemas: Improving the Advancement of Women in Academia, 20 Hypatia 198 (2005):

The statistics on women in academia are well documented and summarized in a number of places.


The generality and ubiquity of the problem shows the necessity for a general explanation. Since the phenomena are not confined to a single profession, we need to understand what underlies them. The explanation I focus on is social cognitive; it examines the moment-by-moment perceptions and judgments that disadvantage women. The social-cognitive account relies on two key concepts: gender schemas and the accumulation of advantage. Very briefly: the gender schemas that we all share result in our overrating men and underrating women in professional settings, only in small, barely visible ways: those small disparities accumulate over time to provide men with more advantages than women.

Constance Wagner, Change from Within: Using Task Forces and Best Practices to Achieve Gender Equity, 47 Journal of Legal Education (forthcoming).

This article focuses on the search for gender equity among women faculty in the university setting in the United States. The author advocates for the use of university task forces and the institutionalization of best practices for achieving gender equity as means to remove the persistent barriers to professional advancement experienced by many women faculty. Discriminatory treatment of faculty based on gender may be hidden and remain unacknowledged in some universities, so the process of uncovering such treatment and formulating recommendations for change is an important first step in the process of creating a work environment that is both fair and inviting to women. Many universities have achieved positive outcomes for faculty using this approach, which has the potential to benefit a wider group of women faculty in a more targeted fashion than a strategy that relies on the use of litigation and government agency proceedings. This article documents the disparities in employment status experienced by women faculty in U.S. universities compared to their male counterparts through the use of statistically based gender equity indicators, explores explanations for the existence of such inequities and proposes reasons for their elimination, develops a model framework for the structure and process to be used by a successful gender equity task force, and identifies best practices that have the greatest potential to advance the status of women university faculty. The author draws upon case studies of successful task forces at several U.S. universities, the work of professional organizations representing university faculty and administrators, and the academic literature on the employment status of women faculty in the United States.

This piece contributes to the literature on employment discrimination based on gender in the United States in a novel way by approaching the topic from the perspective of mechanisms for institutional change rather than from a litigation perspective. It fills a gap in the literature by exploring the topic of gender inequity among university faculty from a strategic perspective by drawing on the work of successful task forces and emerging best practices that show promise to improve the status of university women faculty.

Gender Bias in Academe: An Annotated Bibliography:

Studies of the hard data of gender bias—in an era of hard data—should be required reading of all administrators and all faculty who are called upon to make decisions about hiring, tenure, and promotion based on purely quantitative measures such as “productivity” or “citation counts.”  An adage of data scientists is “garbage in, garbage out.” That means if the sample or the data is corrupt or biased when it is first entered, then any conclusions based on mining or crunching that data must be regarded with keen skepticism. You cannot simply count the end product (such as number of articles accepted, reviewed, awarded prizes, or cited) without understanding the implicit bias that pervades the original selection process and all the subsequent choices on the way to such rewards.

 

Book Review, Deborah Rhode, Women and Leadership, 8 ConLawNOW 1 (2017).

October 13, 2017 in Education, Equal Employment, Gender | Permalink | Comments (0)

Gender Bias in Academe: An Annotated Bibliography

London School of Economics, LSE Impact Blog, Gender Bias in Academe: An Annotated Bibliography

Academic research plays an important role in uncovering bias and helping to shape a more equal society. But academia also struggles to adequately confront persistent and entrenched gender bias in its own corridors. Here Danica Savonick and Cathy N. Davidson have aggregated and summarised over twenty research articles on gender bias in academe. 

 

The often unconscious and unintentional biases against women, including in academe, have been well documented in the autobiographical writings of authors such as Audre Lorde, Adrienne Rich, Patricia Williams, and bell hooks. But is the experience they document merely “subjective”?  Several recent social science research studies, using strictly controlled methodologies, suggest that these first-person accounts of discrimination are representative, not simply anecdotal. While some studies suggest that some fields are making a concerted effort to reverse gender imbalance in hiring and other practices, the majority of these studies reveal a consistent and continuing range of biases at each stage of the hiring, tenuring, and promotion process as well as in peer review and teaching evaluation.

 

The studies aggregated and summarized below offer important policy implications for the traditional ways that we quantify the processes leading to hiring, promotion, and tenure. You cannot simply count “outputs” in making an evaluation of someone’s worth and reputation if there is a “biased filter” at the first stage of evaluation, prejudicing judgment at the outset.

October 13, 2017 in Education, Equal Employment | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

CAL Passes Bill to Codify Obama-Era Title IX Guidance for Campus Sexual Assault

California Senators Want to Codify Obama-Era Title IX Guidance on Campus Sexual Assault

With the stroke of a pen, Education Secretary Betsy Devos rescinded Obama-era Title IX guidance—effectively undoing nearly half a century of policy and advocacy work that helped to protect women and girls from sexual assault and advance equal access to education. The Department of Education’s updated guidance on Title IX allows schools to mediate rather than adjudicate sexual assault cases, revokes the suggested timeline for investigations and revises the suggested “preponderance of evidence” standard for sexual assault cases to make room for schools to enforce “clear and convincing evidence” standards.

 

Colleges and universities have been swift to respond, speaking out against the new interim guidance and pledging to uphold the old standards by following the procedures with which they were imbued under the Obama-era guidance. In a statement on Friday, UC Berkeley said it “stands firmly in support of the profoundly important policies enacted in recent years that seek to ensure a more efficient and fair system for all parties in cases of sexual harassment and sexual violence.” Penn State stated that it was their goal “to keep our reporting mechanisms and supportive services for responding to incidents of sexual and gender-based harassment and discrimination as effective and accessible as possible.” Washington University announced that “regardless of decisions at the federal level” they “have no intention of turning back on our commitment or resolve.”

 

These responses are undeniably uplifting and important—but laws are only as good as their enforcement. Without the proper mechanisms for effective enforcement that the previous guidance provided, it is hard to say whether schools will hold themselves accountable to the law or let their promises ring empty. Rather than hope for the best, California Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara) authored a bill that would enshrine into California law the Obama guidelines that guaranteed girls and women equal access to education.

 

SB 169 sends a message that the state does not want to sit idly by as the federal government attempts to propel women’s rights into the past. “In California, we will not go back,” Jackson said in a statement on Friday. “Both houses of the Legislature made a clear bipartisan statement by passing my bill, SB 169, to protect the Obama-era guidelines that strike an appropriate balance that were put in place during his tenure. We will not back down from the progress we have made on sexual assault and sexual violence.”

 

SB 169 passed with a 28-10 vote and is awaiting a signature from Governor Jerry Brown (D)

October 10, 2017 in Education, Legislation, Violence Against Women | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, October 6, 2017

"Man-els": Should Universities Ban Single-Gender Discussion Panels?

Should Universities Ban Single-Gender Discussion Panels?

One source of controversy at some academic conferences is the tendency for discussion panels to be composed largely of white men. In recent years, there’s been a heightened awareness among scholars of the importance of both gender and racial diversity when organizing such discussions — be they at conferences or on campuses.

 

In July, the Elliott School of International Affairs at George Washington University took an unorthodox step to ensure gender diversity in its panel discussions: It adopted a rule banning single-gender panels. Specifically, the policy requires panels with more than two speakers to include both men and women. And if all speakers happen to be of the same gender, the moderator must be of a different gender. Violating the policy could result in a panel’s cancellation.

 

But there was backlash. Some faculty members complained, and news outlets like Breitbart seized upon the controversy. "It’s a total, obvious infringement on common sense to begin with, and academic freedom," said Jonathan Chaves, a professor of Chinese in the Elliott school, told the university’s student newspaper. "There’s only one standard that applies to an institution of higher education," said Mr. Chaves, "and that is who the best person is in the field. Period."

[However...]

 

"Part of privilege is just not having to think about this, you just call your friends, you call your buddies, or you call people in your network, to be on panels like this," she said. "In a practice of exclusion, like all-male, all-white panels are, we are not allowing the merits of somebody’s scholarship to actually bubble to the top."

 

One of the most recognizable efforts to diversify panels hasn’t come from administrators but from professors themselves.

 

Last year, women in political-science departments across the nation founded a searchable database called Women Also Know Stuff in an effort to bring attention to what they call "man-els," or all-male panels.

 

Melissa Michelson, a professor of political science at Menlo College and one of the founders, said she’s seen more women included in news stories and in conferences since the site launched.***

 

But single-gender panels aren’t always all-male. Aili Mari Tripp, chair of the gender and women’s studies department at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, said her department has the opposite problem: all-female panels, because of a lack of men working in gender and women’s studies.

 

As for a rule enforcing gender diversity, Ms. Tripp said that other means are more effective.

 

"The way to go is to create incentives for gender diversity, model it, and find ways to value and recognize the expertise of women and minorities," Ms. Tripp wrote in an email. "rather than legislating it in this way, which will only create unnecessary hostility."

Note, the ABA has adopted a similar rule requiring both gender and racial diversity on ABA CLE and conference panels.  More here The ABA's New Rule Mandating Diverse CLE Panels

October 6, 2017 in Conferences, Education, Gender | Permalink | Comments (0)