Saturday, May 10, 2014
From the authors of the recent study Professors are Prejudiced Too that has been in the news. Explaining the methodology of how they discovered that professors respond more to mentor students who are white men.
- The good news. "Despite not knowing the students, 67 percent of the faculty members responded to the emails, and remarkably, 59 percent of the responders even agreed to meet on the proposed date with a student about whom they knew little and who did not even attend their university."
- The bad news. "Professors were more responsive to white male students than to female, black, Hispanic, Indian or Chinese students in almost every discipline and across all types of universities."
- And. "We found the most severe bias in disciplines paying higher faculty salaries and at private universities."
Maybe its not just Princeton freshmen that need to check their privilege.
Thursday, May 8, 2014
I just published the book chapter, Teaching Women's Legal History in Teaching Legal History: Comparative Perspectives (Robert Jarvis, ed. 2014). Here's an excerpt:
My objectives for the class focus on women, historical relevance, and feminist methodology. First, the class is designed to explore the historical development of women’s rights in the law, information that is mostly absent in other courses except for a scattered representation in constitutional law. Second, my goal is to foster an appreciation for the modern significance of that history. This “applied legal history” approach seeks a useable past that enables history to be relevant to ongoing legal disputes of gender. Finally, the course introduces and utilizes feminist methodology of deconstruction and integration. It trains the students to read the law with suspicion by looking beyond the seeming objectivity of the law to expose assumptions and biases. It also then adds to that law and context the omitted experiences of women. There is value in expanding feminist methodology beyond the usual feminist theory class because it offers a critical way of approaching the law, emphasizes social context, and teaches gender as a core value.
So suggests a new study, Prestigious Colleges Won't Make You Happy in Life or Work. What does result in happiness, defined to mean positive well-being and engagement? The study says "not selectivity or prestige, but cost of attendance, great teaching and deep learning, in that order."
The take-home message for students is clear, says Brandon Busteed, who leads Gallup's education work: "If you can go to Podunk U debt free vs. Harvard for $100,000, go to Podunk. And concentrate on what you do when you get there."
Tuesday, May 6, 2014
From the NYT, Fight Against Sexual Assault Holds Colleges to Account. The many news accounts have been tracking colleges' failures to properly investigate complaints of sexual assault, delaying action, using sloppy fact gathering, authorizing untrained decisionmakers, and refusing to issue effective sanctions or preventions. This article points to other systemic failures.
1. Universities Haven't Prioritized the Issue
“It just hasn’t been on most university administrators’ agendas; they don’t know how to approach it, and they just haven’t taken the time to be informed,” said Bonnie S. Fisher, a professor at the University of Cincinnati’s School of Criminal Justice and an author of some of the largest studies of campus sex crimes. “It’s just another issue on their desks that they’re hoping doesn’t cause a loss of students or bad media attention.”
2. The Obama administation has used a stricter interpretation of existing laws.
Universities have increasingly been told that this means they are required to protect students from sexual harassment and assault. In 2011, the Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights sent a letter to colleges, putting them on notice that it saw many of them as mishandling sexual assault cases, and that it would use a new, stricter interpretation of their duties under Title IX.
That helped fuel a jump in Title IX complaints filed with the Office for Civil Rights by students against colleges, specifically about their responses to sexual violence — from 11 in the 2009-10 fiscal year to 31 in 2012-13 and 37 in the first eight months of the current year.
At the same time, the Clery Act requires federally financed colleges and universities to disclose the number of cases of sexual assault reported on or near their campuses each year.
3. Education, maybe, is a unique context.
The Obama administration has told universities they must use a “preponderance of the evidence” standard in deciding whether to hold an accused student responsible, not the stricter “clear and convincing” rule many used. Some civil libertarians have cried foul, and public universities have asked whether the rule could conflict with the due process rights they, as arms of the states, must give the accused.
Monday, May 5, 2014
It's April, which means, it's near Prom Time for many high school students. Which brings us to this Slate article (by "last April," the article means to refer to April 2013):
Last April, Issak Wolfe, a transgender high school student at Red Lion Area High School in Pennsylvania, was denied the opportunity to run for prom king by his school’s principal. His fellow classmates and most of his teachers supported and respected his male gender identity, and he had received repeated assurances that his name would appear on the prom king side of the ballot. But when the ballot was released, Issak was dismayed and embarrassed to discover that he was listed as a candidate for prom queen and was referred to by the female name he was assigned at birth instead of his male name. Issak later learned from administrators that the decision was made by his principal, because he “didn’t feel comfortable” with Issak running for prom king.
Fortunately for students like Isaak, the Office for Civil Rights in the Department of Education took an incredibly important step forward earlier this week when it declared that discrimination against transgender students is prohibited under existing bans on sex discrimination, specifically Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. While this is tremendous news, OCR must now follow up with comprehensive guidance on Title IX and transgender students to schools nationwide.
Saturday, May 3, 2014
The 5 Takeaways on administrative help from the federal Department of Education to the institutional enforcement against campus assault.
1. Dept of Ed will issue FAQ to guide schools in following Title IX
2. Creation of new website NotAlone.gov to compile previously scattered best-practice resources that has the potential to be a game changer for transparency and awareness.
3. Dept of Ed will collect and disseminate list of schools' Title IX compliance officers
4. Plans to survey more students on campus
5. Model policies and protocols for colleges
Friday, May 2, 2014
On Tuesday, the Obama administration released the first report from the White House Task Force to Protect Students From Sexual Assault, which was created in January, issuing guidance to schools on collecting data, establishing better prevention programs and responses to assaults, and announcing a new federal website that will be a clearinghouse of information and a public source of enforcement data. On the same day, the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) released a new “questions and answers”document clarifying schools’ obligations under Title IX as it pertains to sexual violence. Title IX is a federal law prohibiting gender discrimination.
Thursday, May 1, 2014
A former history professor at the University of Pennsylvania is suing the school, claiming she was denied tenure because she took time off to have and care for her children.
Kristen Stromberg Childers, who taught at the Ivy League college from 2002 until 2010, contends in the federal discrimination lawsuit that her family-leave periods were the "determinative and motivating factors in the decision to deny tenure."
Childers took maternity leave during the 2003-2004 and 2007-2008 academic years for the births of her two children; she also took half-time, half-pay family leave in the 2008-2009 school year due to medical and educational issues her older child was having, the suit says.
She was denied tenure in February 2008 and again after submitting a new application in 2010.
Childers filed a grievance, and a panel in May 2011 found that the review process unfairly considered statements about the assistant professor's child-care leave in making its decision.
According to the lawsuit, the grievance panel found that the chairwoman of Penn's School of Arts and Sciences' personnel committee "inappropriately" wrote to the school's dean that "committee members found it especially hard to judge productivity in light of Dr. Stromberg Childers' family leave time and her junior leave." The dean later said in a letter that it was "difficult to give a balanced assessment" of the professor's productivity "because of the amount of family leave she has had."
Wednesday, April 30, 2014
The federal law that protects students from sex discrimination, Title IX, also protects transgender students, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights formalized in new guidance issued Tuesday.
In new guidance from education officials on the topic of sexual violence in schools, the Department of Education, for the first time, made clear its position that transgender discrimination in schools is included under what it considers as sex-based discrimination under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972.
“Our federal civil rights laws demand that all students — women and men; gay and straight; transgender or not; citizens and foreign students — be allowed to learn and participate in all parts of college life without sexual assault and harassment limiting their opportunities,” said Catherine E. Lhamon, assistant secretary for civil rights, in a statement. “The Office for Civil Rights stands ready to enforce this core principle to ensure all students’ safety in schools.”
Thursday, April 24, 2014
The Family Law Prof Blog posted Even in Academia, Dads Don't Do Diapers. The assumption of this study was that if there was gender equality in parenting anywhere, it would be in academia where men have more flexible time at home. But, no.
Most of the academics in our study said they believe that husbands and wives should share equally, but almost none did so.” To be precise, only three men out of 109 reported that they performed half the child-care work. One possible explanation, according to the father-and-son duo, is that women derive a higher enjoyment of many of the activities involved in the care of small children. The Rhoads asked the men and women to report their level of enjoyment in performing 25 different tasks—everything from playing with the baby to washing his clothes. On almost every count, women said they experienced a higher level of satisfaction. Steven Rhoads admits the discovery that mothers enjoy changing diapers was, to his own mind, the most surprising aspect of his findings. “It shows you gender roles go pretty deep,” he says.
Are you kidding me?!? The conclusion is that we enjoy changing diapers! Please. The entrenched gender role is not that women enjoy such crappy duties. (Ok, I couldn't resist.) But that they are socially conditioned not to show dissatisfaction with mothering or towards their children under threat of the "bad mother" indictment.
Wednesday, April 23, 2014
From her dissent in Tuesday's decision in Schuette v. BAMN, upholding Michigan’s state ban on race-conscious (and gender-conscious) admission decisions. (Citations omitted).
Race matters. Race matters in part because of the long history of racial minorities’ being denied access to the political process. And although we have made great strides, “voting discrimination still exists; no one doubts that.”
Race also matters because of persistent racial inequality in society—inequality that cannot be ignored and that has produced stark socioeconomic disparities.
And race matters for reasons that really are only skin deep, that cannot be discussed any other way, and that cannot be wished away. Race matters to a young man’s view of society when he spends his teenage years watching others tense up as he passes, no matter the neighborhood where he grew up. Race matters to a young woman’s sense of self when she states her hometown, and then is pressed, “No, where are you really from?”, regardless of how many generations her family has been in the country. Race matters to a young person addressed by a stranger in a foreign language, which he does not understand because only English was spoken at home. Race matters because of the slights, the snickers, the silent judgments that reinforce that most crippling of thoughts: “I do not belong here.”
In my colleagues’ view, examining the racial impact of legislation only perpetuates racial discrimination. This refusal to accept the stark reality that race matters is regrettable. The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to speak openly and candidly on the subject of race, and to apply the Constitution with eyes open to the unfortunate effects of centuries of racial discrimination. As members of the judiciary tasked with intervening to carry out the guarantee of equal protection, we ought not sit back and wish away, rather than confront, the racial inequality that exists in our society. It is this view that works harm, by perpetuating the facile notion that what makes race matter is acknowledging the simple truth that race does matter.
Tuesday, April 15, 2014
Women have made gains in the workplace but there's still a wage gap. Although attending college costs the same for both genders, women are more burdened by student loan debt after graduating. They spend a higher proportion of their salaries on paying off debt because, well, they have lower salaries to work with than men — from the very start.
Saturday, April 5, 2014
When I used to teach, I did an exercise that required students to analyze my gender performance (thank you, Judith Butler). Students judged how feminine, masculine, or androgynous I was by paying careful attention to my appearance, affect, and personality. To make it easier for them, I wore a skirt, flowery tops, sparkly accessories, high heels, and more make-up than usual. By exaggerating my femininity, I helped them realize how pliable and deployable gender....
Almost every semester, a couple of students would raise their hands to tell me that I didn’t “look” like a professor....When I pressed them on why I didn’t look the part, they explained that professors seemed to be male, older (or younger), bearded, and white. Their vision of the professoriate startled me.
Tuesday, March 25, 2014
The girls’ cause is about much more than the right to bear L’eggs. By emphasizing the disruptive consequences of leggings, administrators are attempting to fix boys’ juvenile behavior by placing an unfair burden on the girls who are supposedly distracting them. (As Hasty put it: “Not being able to wear leggings because it’s ‘too distracting for boys’ is giving us the impression we should be guilty for what guys do.”) The result is that the school is actually preventing these girls from focusing on their schoolwork by asking them to pay more attention to their own bodies.
Tuesday, February 25, 2014
The Seventh Circuit decided Hayden v. Greensburg Community Schools, ___F.3d___ (7th Cir. Feb. 24, 2014).
On behalf of their son, [parents] challenge a policy which requires boys playing interscholastic basketball at the public high school in Greensburg, Indiana, to keep their hair cut short. The Haydens make two principal arguments: (1) the hair-length policy arbitrarily intrudes upon their son's liberty interest in choosing his own hair length, and thus violates his right to substantive due process, and (2) because the policy applies only to boys and not girls wishing to play basketball, the policy constitutes sex discrimination. The district court rejected both claims and granted judgment to the Hayden ex rel. A.H. v. Greensburg Cmty. Sch. Corp., 2013 WL 1001947 (S.D.Ind. Mar. 13, 2013). We reverse in part. Because the hair-length policy on its face treats boys and girls differently, and because the record tells us nothing about any comparable grooming standards applied to girls playing basketball, the evidence entitles the Haydens to judgment on their sex discrimination claims.
It's Hard to Call Myself a Male Feminist at University. I Blame Lad Culture. The perspective of a male student.
I think the main reason so few male students identify as feminists is because of the spreading virus of lad culture at university. Lad culture is the idea that overt acts of masculinity prove some form of superiority over others.
The reality is that lad culture is a prominent part of university life. Club nights often encourage the sexualisation and degradation of women through dress code, and lad values tell male students it's important to get drunk, pull women and act like a noteworthy lad.
Lad culture means that male students are less likely to call themselves feminists for fear of embarrassing themselves, even if they believe in gender equality.
It's hardly laddish to try and deconstruct a patriarchal system. Lad culture at university makes many potential male feminists feel demeaned; it can be hard to fit in if you don't keep up with "the lads".
Monday, February 17, 2014
Call for Papers: Feminist currents to be published in Frontiers, A Journal of Women's Studies, The Ohio State University.
The Question: In an era of tightening budgets and renewed fiscal conservatism, how committed are institutions to our research and teaching, or students to the critical lenses developed in our classrooms? We inhabit a time of policies mandating that retirees not be replaced and that academic units be consolidated. Circulating in the states are proposals to charge differential fees by majors and academic units in order to encourage supposedly practical preparation for the workforce. Thus, for our next question, we propose to continue this conversation by asking you: What’s the impact of today’s neoliberal political economy on programs and departments in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies and what strategies work to cope, confront and survive?
Replies: Email your reflections, from 30 to 300 words, to firstname.lastname@example.org later than March 15, 2014. In your subject line please type "Feminist Currents." Unless you notify us otherwise in your email, your response signifies that we may paraphrase your thoughts, quote directly from them, and use your name and affiliation. Make sure that you include your affiliation, if applicable. For more information, please see: http://frontiers.osu.edu/feminist-currents
Sunday, February 16, 2014
Thursday, February 6, 2014
Motion for Preliminary Injunction Granted to 7th Grade Female Student to Join All-Male Wrestling Team. Lawyers "were successful in obtaining a preliminary injunction requiring Line Mountain School District in Herndon, PA to allow seventh-grader Audriana Beattie to be part of the Line Mountain all-male wrestling program. Beattie has wrestled competitively, against boys and girls, since she was in third grade."
Wednesday, February 5, 2014
From the Telegraph UK, a story about higher education in Britain:
In at least 20 institutions, there are twice as many female full-time undergraduates as males. The growing divide in further education follows a similar trend at school level, where girls now outperform boys in all age groups and subjects.
The head of UCAS (Universities and Colleges Admissions Service, sort of like our College Board) said:
“Young men are becoming a disadvantaged group in terms of going to university and this underperformance needs urgent focus across the education sector.”
And concluding thoughts: "The growing divide is becoming a more pressing issue than the number of applicants from poorer homes, said the chief executive of Ucas, the universities admissions service."