Thursday, December 11, 2014
Many in academia have long known about how the practice of student evaluationsof professors is inherently biased against female professors. Students, after all, are just as likely as the public in general to have the same ugly, if unconscious, biases about women in authority. Just as polling data continues to show that a majority of Americans think being a man automatically makes you better in the boss department, many professors worry that students just automatically rate male professors as smarter, more authoritative, and more awesome overall just because they are men. Now, a new study out North Carolina State University shows that there is good reason for that concern.
One of the problems with simply assuming that sexism drives the tendency of students to giving higher ratings to men than women is that students are evaluating professors as a whole, making it hard to separate the impact of gender from other factors, like teaching style and coursework. But North Carolina researcher Lillian MacNell, along with co-authors Dr. Adam Driscoll and Dr. Andrea Hunt, found a way to blind students to the actual gender of instructors by focusing on online course studies. The researchers took two online course instructors, one male and one female, and gave them two classes to teach. Each professor presented as his or her own gender to one class and the opposite to the other.
The results were astonishing. Students gave professors they thought were male much higher evaluations across the board than they did professors they thought were female, regardless of what gender the professors actually were. When they told students they were men, both the male and female professors got a bump in ratings. When they told the students they were women, they took a hit in ratings. Because everything else was the same about them, this difference has to be the result of gender bias.
“The difference in the promptness rating is a good example for discussion,” MacNell explains in the press release for the study. "Classwork was graded and returned to students at the same time by both instructors. But the instructor students thought was male was given a 4.35 rating out of 5. The instructor students thought was female got a 3.55 rating.” Considering that professors were rated on a five-point scale, losing an entire point on the "promptness" question just because students think you're female is a major hit.
“The ratings that students give instructors are really important, because they’re used to guide higher education decisions related to hiring, promotions and tenure,” says Lillian MacNell, lead author of a paper on the work and a Ph.D. student in sociology at NC State. “And if the results of these evaluations are inherently biased against women, we need to find ways to address that problem.”
Monday, December 8, 2014
In one short paragraph of a 34-page memo released on Dec. 1, the Department of Education articulated a clear stance on gender identity, saying transgender students in public schools should be enrolled in single-sex classes that align with how they live their lives day-to-day.
“We’re thrilled,” says Shannon Minter, the legal director for the National Center for Lesbian Rights. “It’s so critical to the health and well-being of those students, and it’s going to be so helpful to have that guidance in writing so that schools understand what their obligations are.”
The memo is explicit that federal law protects students’ decisions made in accordance with their gender identity. “Under Title IX,” it reads, a school “must treat transgender students consistent with their gender identity in all aspects of the planning, implementation, enrollment, operation, and evaluation of single-sex classes
Wednesday, November 26, 2014
Tuesday, November 25, 2014
Meera Deo (Thomas Jefferson), The Ugly Truth About Legal Academia, 80 Brooklyn L. Rev. (2015).
The Diversity in Legal Academia (DLA) project is the first formal, comprehensive, mixed-method empirical examination of the law faculty experience, utilizing an intersectional lens to investigate the personal and professional lives of legal academics. This Article reports on the first set of findings from that study, which I personally designed and implemented. DLA data reveal that ongoing privilege and institutional discrimination based on racism and sexism create distinct challenges for particular law faculty. Interactions between women of color law faculty and both their faculty colleagues and their students indicate persisting racial and gender privilege, resulting in ongoing bias. These findings cry out for law schools to intensify efforts at strengthening rather than de-emphasizing diversity, as many may be tempted to do during this period of great turmoil in legal education. In fact, law schools should provide greater institutional support to faculty, which will help not only those who are underrepresented, marginalized, and vulnerable, but all law faculty, law students, and the legal profession overall. This Article draws from both quantitative and qualitative data gathered from this national sample of law faculty to focus on the ways in which race, gender, and the combination of the two affect law faculty interactions with colleagues and students. It also proposes individual strategies and structural solutions that can be utilized in order for legal academia to live up to its full potential.
Friday, November 21, 2014
Alexandra Brodsky, a Yale Law student, wrote an editorial in WaPo:
In 2008, Wagatwe Wanjuki reported to her school, Tufts, that her boyfriend had repeatedly assaulted her. But the college refused to investigate the claim. The stress of the abuse and institutional betrayal took a toll on her grades, but without the school’s support she could not afford the tutoring she needed. Tufts then expelled Wanjuki for her substandard academic performance in 2009. (Tufts declined to comment on Wanjuki’s experience, citing confidentiality laws.) No longer enrolled as a student, Wanjuki’s student debt continued to accrue. Years later, she transferred to Rutgers University. Now a prominent anti-violence activist (and friend of mine), she graduated in August with a degree in sociology. But she also has more than $100,000 in debt from two schools.
Under Title IX, schools must ensure that all students have equal access to educational opportunities regardless of gender. According to courts and the Department of Education, this requirement includes an affirmative duty for colleges and universities to help survivors of gender-based violence continue their educations. That means schools must provide services such as tutors, dorm changes that allow victims to avoid their abusers, and mental health support to survivors who report harassment or abuse – even if they do not pursue disciplinary charges against the offender.
Yet stories from students across the country show that colleges and universities often shirk their responsibilities to support survivors. Students are then left to fend for themselves (with the help of their families, if they are lucky) as they try to stay in school. Thousands of dollars can disappear into rent for a new apartment off campus, away from an abusive ex, or into bills for hours of much-needed counseling. When a school denies survivors the services and support they need to recover, students may be forced to take out additional loans — or even to leave school, a semester’s tuition down the drain.
Tuesday, November 18, 2014
Jed Rubenfeld, NYT, Mishandling Rape
Our strategy for dealing with rape on college campuses has failed abysmally. Female students are raped in appalling numbers, and their rapists almost invariably go free. Forced by the federal government, colleges have now gotten into the business of conducting rape trials, but they are not competent to handle this job. They are simultaneously failing to punish rapists adequately and branding students sexual assailants when no sexual assault occurred.
We have to transform our approach to campus rape to get at the root problems, which the new college processes ignore and arguably even exacerbate.***
Is the answer, then, as conservatives argue, deregulation — getting the government off the universities’ backs? Is it, as the Harvard law professors suggest, strengthening procedural protections for the accused?
Neither strategy would get to the true problems: rapists going unpunished, the heady mixture of sex and alcohol on college campuses, and the ways in which colleges are expanding the concept of sexual assault to change its basic meaning.***
But if schools are genuinely interested in preventing sexual assault, they need to overhaul how they think about assault and what they do about it. Prevention, rather than adjudication, should be a college’s priority.
Here's the response from 75 Yale Law Students. Professor's Campus Rape Op-Ed Gets it Wrong [Thanks Dara Purvis].
More than 75 students at Yale Law School have signed an open letter pushing back on a recent New York Times column about campus rape written by one of their professors.***
[W]hat has drawn the most ire are Rubenfeld's comments about consent. In his column, Rubenfeld characterizes affirmative consent policies as unenforceable and overly broad, and suggests that such an approach categorically redefines all drunk sex as rape.
Saturday, November 1, 2014
Susan Hanley Duncan (Louisville) has published The Devil is in the Details: Will the Campus SAVE Act Provide More or Less Protection to Victims of Sexual Assault [WL only], 40 J. College & Univer. Law 443 (2014). From the Introduction:
Campus violence, especially sexual harassment which includes sexual violence, remains a major issue facing colleges and universities today. Colleges and universities must not abrogate their legal obligations to law enforcement; they have a shared responsibility under federal civil rights laws to proactively provide safe environments for students to live and learn. Despite several laws addressing the problem, guidance from federal agencies, and greater education efforts, the statistics still reflect a sad reality-young people in colleges and universities, especially young women, are not safe. The White House Council on Women and Girls released a report in January 2014, Rape and Sexual Assault: A Renewed Call to Action, which portrayed a frightening landscape of sexual violence on college campuses, in the military, and among certain defined populations including LGBT individuals and Native American women.More needs to be done now. To that end, President Obama and Congress recently revised legislation hoping these modifications would make college and university campuses safer. In addition, the President formed a White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault, a task force of senior administration officials to provide him with recommendations within ninety days on the topic of best practices for preventing and responding to sexual assault and rape. In addition, he requested that the task force explore how well universities and colleges are complying with the law, and provide him with ideas on how to increase transparency with enforcement and encourage better collaboration between governmental agencies enforcing the law.This renewed focus on campus sexual assaults comes at the same time the new Campus Sexual Violence Elimination Act (Campus SaVE Act) goes into effect on March 7, 2014. This new law seeks to increase transparency, accountability, and education surrounding the issue of campus violence, including sexual assaults, domestic violence, dating violence and stalking. The law remains hotly debated within victim advocate circles and college and university administrators as to whether it will help victims or reduce their protections under Title IX. All the interested parties agree, however, that the law leaves many questions unanswered and are anxiously watching the negotiated rulemaking process in hopes for more clarity.
Friday, October 17, 2014
Like every other matriculating student at Wellesley, which is just west of Boston, Timothy Boatwright was raised a girl and checked “female” when he applied. Though he had told his high-school friends that he was transgender, he did not reveal that on his application, in part because his mother helped him with it, and he didn’t want her to know. Besides, he told me, “it seemed awkward to write an application essay for a women’s college on why you were not a woman.” Like many trans students, he chose a women’s college because it seemed safer physically and psychologically.
Last spring, as a sophomore, Timothy decided to run for a seat on the student-government cabinet, the highest position that an openly trans student had ever sought at Wellesley. The post he sought was multicultural affairs coordinator, or “MAC,” responsible for promoting “a culture of diversity” among students and staff and faculty members. Along with Timothy, three women of color indicated their intent to run for the seat. But when they dropped out for various unrelated reasons before the race really began, he was alone on the ballot. An anonymous lobbying effort began on Facebook, pushing students to vote “abstain.” Enough “abstains” would deny Timothy the minimum number of votes Wellesley required, forcing a new election for the seat and providing an opportunity for other candidates to come forward. The “Campaign to Abstain” argument was simple: Of all the people at a multiethnic women’s college who could hold the school’s “diversity” seat, the least fitting one was a white man.
Thursday, October 16, 2014
In our zeal to address campus sexual assault, and compensate for past inaction, we may be running afoul of basic due process protections. It's not a zero sum game here--we can both respond meaningfully to campus assault and comply with the usual and important protections of due process.
Dozens of Harvard Law School faculty members are asking the university to withdraw its new sexual misconduct policy, saying that it violates basic principles of fairness and would do more harm than good.
“Harvard has adopted procedures for deciding cases of alleged sexual misconduct which lack the most basic elements of fairness and due process, are overwhelmingly stacked against the accused, and are in no way required” by the federal anti-discrimination law, known as Title IX, they wrote in an op-ed article signed by 28 current and retired members of the Harvard Law faculty and posted online by The Boston Globe on Tuesday night.
“It’s a totally secret process, in which real genuine unfairnesses can happen, and it’s so airtight that no one would know,” Janet Halley, one of the professors who signed the article, said Wednesday.
More here, New Republic, Accused College Rapists Have Rights Too: The Victims Deserve Justice. The Men Deserve Due Process.
Tuesday, October 14, 2014
Public, single-gender schools have become more common over the last decade, but new research shows that people might choose such schools based on de-bunked ideas of differences in male and female brains.
Meagan Patterson, associate professor of psychology and research in education, co-authored a study with Erin Pahlke of Whitman College and Rebecca Bigler of the University of Texas in which they surveyed parents, teachers and students at both an all-girls school in the southwestern United States as well as parents, teachers and students from co-ed schools in the same district. They asked respondents about reasons that their district had opened an all-girls school and their personal endorsement of these reasons. The study is published in the journal Sex Roles.
They found that teachers largely embrace the idea that differences in boys’ and girls’ brains affect the way they learn. Neuroscience research fails to support that claim. But despite neuroscientists showing that such differences are small and the similarities between the two genders’ brains and learning styles are much greater, the idea has nto teaching materials, the media and acceptance in society.
Saturday, October 11, 2014
The Malala Scholarship Act at Congress.gov
Tuesday, October 7, 2014
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said on Thursday that he had instructed the State University of New York to overhaul its approach to preventing, investigating and prosecuting sexual assault, including making affirmative consent the rule on all 64 of its campuses.
Mr. Cuomo, announcing the change at a news conference in Manhattan, said SUNY’s new approach, which is to be put into effect in the next 60 days, would eventually lead to a statewide law regulating sexual assault policies at all New York colleges and universities.
Calling campus sexual assault a national epidemic, the governor said: “This is Harvard and Yale and Princeton, Albany and Buffalo and Oswego. It is not SUNY’s problem by origination. I would suggest it should be SUNY’s problem to solve and SUNY’s place to lead.”
Tuesday, September 30, 2014
Gov. Jerry Brown has signed a bill into law that makes California the first in the nation to have a clear definition of when people agree to sex. The law goes further than the common "no means no" standard, which has been blamed for bringing ambiguity into investigations of sexual assault cases.
The new law seeks both to improve how universities handle rape and sexual assault accusations and to clarify the standards, requiring an "affirmative consent" and stating that consent can't be given if someone is asleep or incapacitated by drugs or alcohol.
"Lack of protest or resistance does not mean consent," the law states, "nor does silence mean consent. Affirmative consent must be ongoing throughout a sexual activity and can be revoked at any time."
The White House rolled out a new sexual assault prevention campaign engaging men as part of the solution: It's On Us
What College Men Think of the New Rape Prevention Campaign That's Targeting Them. According to this report, they're ok with it.
Saturday, September 27, 2014
Integrating fraternities will reduce campus sexual assault?
Slate, Accept Women--Or Else
All on-campus fraternities at Wesleyan University must soon become coeducational or they will be shut down, the university announced Monday, giving its small but often under-fire Greek system a three-year deadline to open its doors to female students.
“The culture of these houses contributes to the culture of sexual assault in a way we weren’t willing to stand for anymore,” Updegrove said in May. In a blog post in April, Roth wrote that it’s "clear that many students see fraternity houses as spaces where women enter with a different status than in any other building on campus, sometimes with terrible consequences."
Thursday, September 25, 2014
Mary Lynch (Albany) has posted Why Don't Males Do the Fair Share of House/Care Work? Theories about Gender Differences Regarding Institutional and Communal Care Work in American Law Schools in Times of Economic Distress.
For many years, it has been fairly well documented that, as a whole, women do more than their equal share of communal "care" – household and parenting – work in households across America even when both partners in a heterosexual couple with children work outside the home. Whether such statistical disparity is a result of cultural expectations, men’s larger share of paid work, or the slow pace of achieving gender equality is debatable. Meanwhile, gendered responses to the global recession and to the contraction of the labor market also present interesting phenomena for American feminists to examine. Some call the recent unemployment crisis in America the "Mancession" because of the types of labor sectors most heavily affected, namely middle class manufacturing jobs. Others argue that American females have been more successful in finding new employment during the global recession because they are more adaptable. Still others warn that as the economy turns around and middle class manufacturing jobs return, women will fare worse in the employment comparisons. Questions needing further examination as the data emerge are: 1) whether female employment will increase, decrease or change as the economy turns around, and 2) whether female adaptation will create more success in employment numbers and compensation.
Equally ripe for study is the gendered face of American legal education, particularly as legal educators are challenged to change and, I posit, to engage in "feminine" behavior: 1) to work communally rather than individually and 2) to adapt and change in a new economy. This "call for change" stems not simply from the 2008 financial crash, and its concomitant loss of legal jobs, but from the spiraling costs of legal education and the restructuring of the legal market. Critiques of American legal education such as those found in the Carnegie Foundation’s Educating Lawyers, the Clinical Legal Education Association’s Best Practices for Legal Education, and Brian Tamahana’s Failing Law Schools all underscore the need for American law school faculties to work in an integrated and communal manner instead of as independent contractor-experts. The question arises whether the need to act in a more holistic, integrated and communal manner will create or exacerbate gendered differences in the legal academy.
I argue that there have been longstanding gender differences, as a whole, in American law faculty members’ willingness to engage in the "care/household" work of law schools, namely in the production of tangible value for the students, alumni and the profession. These differences can be observed in the gender disparity among the "workhorse" administrative positions such as the Dean of Students and/or Academics, and may also exist in the day to day committee work that is the governing structure of the academy. It can also be demonstrated by the gender identity of those who do the "care" work of the institution – the formation of students for real practice (clinicians) and the challenge of teaching students the most fundamental skills needed for American attorneys - legal research and writing (lawyering /legal writing faculty). That does not mean, of course, that all female faculty members are selfless and all male faculty members are self-involved. One finds both types of individuals in both gender types.
However, for American law schools to continue to flourish, they will need individuals who work communally, who know how to adapt and change for the good of the whole, and who place student or institutional needs above individual inclinations and individual goals. As the work of law school Deans becomes more burdensome and less well-compensated, I believe it is more likely we will see an increasing number of women at the helm of law schools. Contrasting with that argument, however, and on a less cynical and more hopeful note, I explore whether the "feminization of law schools" including the modeling of and teaching of adaptability, flexibility and communal problem solving will redeem American legal education and better prepare law students for the new economy.
Saturday, September 20, 2014
Saturday, January 3
Co-Sponsored Program, Liberty-Equality: Gender, Sexuality, and Reproduction—Griswold v. Connecticut Then and Now, 8:30 a.m. – 10:15 a.m.
Presented by the Section on Constitutional Law and co-sponsored by the Sections on Women in Legal Education and Legal History, this program marks the 50th anniversary of Griswold v. Connecticut, the ground-breaking Supreme Court decision recognizing a right to privacy that protected individuals in making decisions about the use of contraceptives from the reach of state criminal law, but spoke implicitly to the constitutional underpinnings of an individual’s rights or interests in intimacy, marriage, procreation, sexuality, and sexual conduct. Panelists will place the case in historical context, and explore the development of the Griswold doctrine, as well as its implications for current constitutional controversies over access to reproductive health care, marriage, sexuality and sexual conduct.
Section on Women in Legal Education Luncheon, 12:15 – 1:30 p.m.
We are pleased to announce that this luncheon honors both Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who is scheduled to attend and for whom the Section on Women in Legal Education Ruth Bader Ginsburg Lifetime Achievement Award is named, and this year’s Award recipient, [I’ll fill this in before I send and after I talk with her]. Join us to spend some time with and hear from our honorees.
Joint Program: Engendering Equality: A Conversation with Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Associate Justice, Supreme Court of the United States
and New Voices in Legal History, 1:30 – 3:15 p.m.
This Section on Legal History and Women in Legal Education Joint Program, co-sponsored by the Section on Constitutional Law,explores the history of women’s equality and the legacy of Justice Ginsburg. The first portion of the program will, through a conversation between Justice Ginsburg and Wendy Williams, consider the ideas and strategies shaping Justice Ginsburg’s efforts as an advocate, an academic, and a Justice to achieve equal citizenship for women.
The second portion of the program will present a panel of new voices in Women’s Legal History who study the complex and often contradictory ways in which social, political, and legal actors have appealed to gender and equality in movements of the past, and suggest how such studies might engender/inform equality’s future.
AALS Crosscutting Program: The More Things Change . . . Exploring Solutions to Persisting Discrimination in Legal Academia, 2:00 – 3:45 p.m.
This program, spearheaded by WILE Member Meera Deo, draws from empirical data, legal research, litigation strategy, and personal experience to both further conversations about the persistence of discrimination in the legal academy and activate strategies for addressing ongoing structural and individual barriers. Intersectional bias compounds many of these challenges, which range from the discriminatory actions of colleagues and students, to the marginalization of particular subject areas in the curriculum, to structural hierarchies in the profession.
By creating an avenue for direct personal exchange regarding these topics, the program seeks to build community between like-minded individuals who are diverse across characteristics of race, gender, class, teaching status, institution, and age. The focus of the participants is to share best practices and explore new approaches for overcoming ongoing discrimination, with the hope that these strategies may be more broadly employed.
The program follows an innovative format. After short presentations by three speakers, the program transitions to an “open microphone” session of speakers (selected in advance from a “call for remarks”) including those who are untenured, women of color, allies to marginalized faculty, clinical, legal writing and library faculty, and others with perspectives that may differ from the majority. The final thirty minutes are reserved for questions and conversation.
Thursday, August 28, 2014
As we begin this new academic year, a reminder of the power and beauty of the law from a past address of Professor Cheryl Hanna. (Re)Committing to a Life of the Law
But more importantly, I don’t just love the law, I love lawyers. I have the greatest admiration and respect for what you do. Now, that is not to say that we don’t have problems in the profession . . . . But it is my humble opinion the law and those who practice it are among the most important people in our democracy.
But I have been very disturbed lately by what I see as unjustified attacks on the profession. . . .
To that end, Todd asked me to give an inspirational talk. I am not sure that I can do that, but as a professor, I can give you homework. In the medical field, there is something that is called the model of the reflective practitioner. The premise is simple: professionals who intentionally reflect upon what they do and why they do it learn in more profound ways and express greater satisfaction with their profession. Doctors are being trained to actively engage in professional reflection as part of their medical education. However, law schools have not done a good job of implementing similar training for lawyers, and thus, lawyers often don’t have the tools or guidance to become a reflective practitioner, and, as a result I think, often experience greater ambivalence about the legal profession and their role in it.
So, I’d like to introduce some concept about intentional reflection to you and give you some tools to use to try to become a reflective practitioner with the hope that you will do yourselves justice and find more meaning in your professional lives.
[h/t Jackie Gardina]
Tuesday, August 26, 2014
As we start back to school, lots of thinking about what faculty do.
- What goes through a professor's mind. TaxProfBlog, Shadow Syllabus
- Professors should stop assigning textbooks. ATL, Professors, The Cause Of and the Solution To the Great Textbook Scam
- Elite education has become only about achievement, not expanding minds. NYT Book Review, The Enclosure of the American Mind
- Online education rush requires faculty to give away their intellectual property rights. Chronicle, The Erosion of Faculty Rights
Tuesday, August 19, 2014
It’s what he sees as the “unilateral” tightening of Northeastern’s publication standards for tenure by Provost Stephen W. Director. Three tenure denial cases from this year are under appeal, with each professor claiming that her application was judged against unclear, inconsistent standards—particularly about publication—at the provost’s level of review. That’s after they’d been backed by faculty reviewers and their deans.
[One woman] was informed in a relatively short letter of denial from the provost that her publications “have not appeared in the most highly regarded journals in the field and have not yet had a clear impact on the field.”
All three women professors write on interdisciplinary topics involving gender.
- Shelley Kimelberg (sociology, PhD Harvard). Her recent research focused on middle-class mothers and urban public schools
- Denise Horn (international relations/Poli sci, PhD Rutgers). Her book is Women, Civil Society and the GeoPolitics of Civilization (Routledge)
- Kimberly Juanita Brown (English, PhD Yale). Her book project is a program of The Reed Foundation, in support of her book project is “The Repeating Body: Slavery’s Resonance in the Contemporary."