Gender and the Law Prof Blog

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

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Exposing the Myths of Negotiating While Female

Andrea Kupfer Schneider, Negotiating While Female, 70 SMU L. Rev. (2017)

Why are women paid less than men? Prevailing ethos conveniently blames the woman and her alleged inability to negotiate. This article argues that blaming women for any lack of negotiation skills or efforts is inaccurate and that prevailing perceptions about women and negotiation are in-deed myths. The first myth is that women do not negotiate. While this is true in some lab studies and among younger women, more recent workplace data calls this platitude into question. The second myth is that women should avoid negotiations because of potential backlash. Although women in leadership do face an ongoing challenge to be likeable, it is clear that not negotiating has long-term detrimental effects. The third myth, based on the limited assumption that a good negotiator must be assertive, is that women cannot negotiate as well as men. However, the most effective negotiators are not just assertive, but also empathetic, flexible, socially intuitive, and ethical. Women can and do possess these negotiation skills. This article concludes by proposing an action plan which provides advice on how women can become more effective negotiators and identifies structural changes that might encourage negotiation and reduce the gender pay gap.

February 20, 2018 in Gender, Theory, Women lawyers, Workplace | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Books: Sexual Intimacy and Gender Identity "Fraud"

Author Q&A: Sexual Intimacy and Gender Identity Fraud: Reframing the Legal and Ethical Debate,

Professor Alex Sharpe is a Law Professor at Keele University and a human rights barrister at Garden Court Chambers, London. She is a social and legal theorist, legal historian, and gender, sexuality & law scholar. 

She has been cited by the European Court of Human Rights as well as by a series of courts in domestic jurisdictions. She sits on the International Legal Committee of the World Professional Association of Transgender Health and has sat on Amnesty International’s Expert Committee on the Criminalisation of Sexual and Reproductive Conduct. 

 

 Q: What influenced you to write this book?

A:  In 2012, 17 year old Gemma Barker was convicted of sexual offences on the basis that she failed to disclose her gender identity to female complainants prior to sexual intimacies. She was sentenced to two and a half years in prison and placed on the Sex Offenders Register for life. This was the second case of its kind in the UK. The first was prosecuted over 20 years earlier (R v Jennifer Saunders [1991] unrep). However, unlike the Saunders case, Barker proved to be the beginning of a disturbing pattern of successful prosecutions. In 2013, convictions were sustained against Chris Wilson in Edinburgh and Justine McNally in London. In 2015, Gayle Newland and Kyran Lee were convicted in Chester and Lincoln respectively, and in 2016, Jason Staines was convicted in Bristol. Most recently, in 2017, Gayle Newland was reconvicted in Manchester after the Court of Appeal found her original conviction unsafe and ordered a retrial.

 

Prior to Barker’s conviction, I had already been researching the legal requirement placed on transgender people to disclose their gender histories prior to marriage, lest the marriage be declared a nullity (see, for example, my article in the Modern Law Review (2012) 75(1) 33-53). With the Barker case, the stakes had suddenly been raised for transgender and other gender non-conforming people. I was shocked that these kinds of prosecutions were being brought and after the 2013 cases decided to write this book both as a critical analysis of the issues involved and as a political intervention. The book is resolutely against prosecution. 

February 15, 2018 in Books, Gender | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Corporate Board Gender Diversity Measured by Power Rather than Numbers

Yaron Nili, Beyond the Numbers: Substantive Gender Diversity in Boardrooms

The push for gender diversity on public companies' boards has been gaining traction. Advocacy groups, institutional investors, regulators and companies themselves have all recognized the need for more diverse boards. However, gender parity is still absent from most public companies' boards, and a significant number of companies still have no women on their boards. 

Current public and academic discourse has focused on the number of women serving on the board and their percentage compared to men as the litmus test for gender diversity. However, academic studies and the public push for more diversity have mostly failed to account for another important measure of board gender diversity - the actual role and clout that female directors have within the boardroom. This is what the Article terms as substantive gender diversity. 

Substantive gender diversity matters. It is at the core of both the social cause and the business case for gender diversity on boards. This Article explores this substantive component of board gender diversity through empirical data relating to the role that men and women play on corporate boards. The Article finds statistically significant differences between the roles of female and male directors. Building on these findings, the Article asserts that regulators, investors and companies must focus not only on increasing the number of women on boards but also on ensuring that female directors enjoy similar parity once elected. The Article then proposes a shift towards a Substantive Gender Diversity Disclosure regime, which would measure and report the substantive aspect of gender diversity in boardrooms.

February 13, 2018 in Business, Gender | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

The Madonna/Whore Complex in the Italian Murder Conviction of Amanda Knox

Martha Grace Duncan, What Not to Do When Your Roommate is Murdered in Italy: Amanda Knox, her "Strange" Behavior, and the Italian Legal System

One of the most widely publicized cases of our time is that of Amanda Knox, the college student from West Seattle who was convicted of murdering her British roommate in Italy and served four years in prison before being acquitted and released. Retried in absentia, she was convicted again, only to be exonerated by the Italian Supreme Court, which handed down its final opinion in September, 2015. Throughout its eight-year duration, the case garnered worldwide attention, in part because of the pretty, photogenic defendant and the drug-fueled sex game that the prosecutor adduced as the motive for the crime. Interest in the case spiked again with the release of a Netflix original documentary, Amanda Knox, in the fall of 2016. 

While the Amanda Knox case has been remarkable for its ability to fascinate an international audience, it is not altogether unique. Rather, it is emblematic of broader themes and a broader problem−that of human beings’ prejudice against “strangeness” and our desperation for a hasty assessment of guilt or innocence‒qualities that can bleed into a legal system to the detriment of the quest for truth.

In this Article, I explore the Amanda Knox case in the context of our defective ability to judge. In Part One, I use the conceit of a “What Not to Do” list to highlight the role played by Amanda’s “strangeness” in bringing about her arrest and two convictions. In Part Two, I re-examine the usual rationale for Amanda’s behavior and suggest that a better explanation lies in her age and developmental stage. In Part Three, I shift from the interpreted to the interpreters, arguing that the latter were powerfully affected by the Madonna/whore complex and cultural differences between Perugia and Seattle. In Part Four, I analyze the impact of the Italian legal system, with its deep roots in the inquisitorial paradigm and its limited adversarial reforms.

This Article is based not only on scholarly research but also on my four sojourns in Italy, where I retraced Amanda’s footsteps and discussed the case with numerous legal experts. I had the opportunity to interview Amanda herself after she was free in Seattle.

January 31, 2018 in Gender, International, Pop Culture | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Discussing Toxic Masculinity

Ask a Feminist: Michael Kimmel and Lisa Wade Discuss Toxic Masculinity, Signs Journal

Feminism basically offered women a symmetry between the social and the individual. The social observation was women as a group are not in power. And individually, women didn't feel powerful. So feminism basically said, let’s address both of those: the individual powerlessness and the social powerlessness. When you apply that same syllogism to men, men are in power, everyone agrees, but when you say therefore men must feel powerful, they look at you cross-eyed. They say, “What are you talking about? I have no power. My wife bosses me around. My kids boss me around. My boss bosses me around.” So with women you have a kind of symmetry; with men you have an asymmetry. All of the power in the world has not trickled down to individual men feeling powerful. This is important because you have a whole bunch of political groups out there who are saying things like, “You know, guys, you know how you don't feel powerful? You're right, the feminist women, they have all the power. Let's go get it back.” That's the men's rights guys. Then you have the guys who are saying, “Yes, you know how you don't feel powerful, let's troop off into the woods, and we’ll chant, and we'll drum, and we'll do the power rituals.” That’s the mythopoetic group.

 

I think our task has to be to address the asymmetry between the social and the individual, and here's how we do it. Our analysis of patriarchy is not simply men's power over women; it's also some men’s power over other men. Patriarchy’s always been a dual system of power, and unless we acknowledge that second one, we won't get an idea of why so many men feel like they're complete losers in the gender game, and they're not at all privileged, and they’ll resist any effort toward gender equality. I think we can make them allies.***

 

I have found in forty years of activism that the toxic/healthy dichotomy doesn't resonate for many men. I feel that when we come to them and talk about toxic masculinity, they very often think that we're telling them they're doing it wrong, that they're bad, and they have to change and give up their ideas of masculinity, the toxic ones, and embrace the new one. Basically we’re asking them to renounce Vin Diesel and embrace Ryan Gosling. And men won't go for it. They're too afraid to let go of things because you think they're unhealthy. So I feel like the toxic/healthy thing keeps guys a little bit askew—not exactly full-on resistant, although some are, but not engaged.

 

So I found it better—this is my own activist work,  . . . —but I have found it better to ask men what it means to be a good man and then contrast that with what it means to be a real man.

 

So I was not there to tell them that their behaviors were toxic. I was there to tell them that they are already experiencing a conflict, inside them, between their own values and this homosocial performance. So my job then shifted, not from scolding them to saying, “How can I support you living up to, not my definition of a good man, but yours? You already know the answer to this. You already do it very often, in private. You already do it when you stand up for the right, for the little guy, when you do the right thing. You already do it. How can we, grown-ups, how can we, the rest of society, support you in living up to your own standards?” I think that's a more effective way to reach these guys than it is to say, “You're doing it wrong, here’s how to do it right.”***

 

But I've done that same thing about good men and real men with frat guys when I've worked with them and they say to me, “Well, I know you're here to tell us that we shouldn't exist and fraternities should go away, etc.”

 

And I said, “Maybe not. Here’s a little good man / real man thing for you. Okay, bring me your charter, bring me the charter of your fraternity.” So they bring me the charter. And I said, “Now show me the part in your charter where it says ‘And we will have parties where we get girls so drunk that they can't stand up and they pass out so we can fuck them.’” And you know what? It doesn't say that in their charter. Nowhere. But here’s what it does say: “You’re men of honor, you’re men of integrity, you are about service, you’re about citizenship. I don't want you to live up to my ideals. I want you to live up to yours. If you can live up to your own ideals, you’ll have a reason to exist. Otherwise, no. I’m not okay with it.

January 30, 2018 in Gender, Masculinities, Pop Culture | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

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)

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)

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Law, Gender and Women at 2018 AALS

Wednesday, Jan. 3

3:30 pm How to Adapt Your Outreach Efforts, Admissions Process and Law School Community to Ensure Your Culture is Welcoming to Transgender and Gender Fluid Students

Moderator: Jay Austin, University of California, Irvine School of Law

Speakers: Robyn Brammer, Dean of Counseling and Social Sciences, Golden West College
Jeb Butler, Columbia Law School
Barbara J. Cox, California Western School of Law
Blake Liggio, Partner, Goodwin Procter LLP
Shaun Travers, Campus Diversity Director and Director of the
Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Resource Center, University of California, San Diego


Each year the number of applicants, matriculants, and continuing students who identify as nonbinary, transgender, or perhaps along a wider vontinuum of gendered orientations increases. Has your law school adapted to attract these students? And during their enrollment, what affirming steps can your law school actively engage in to ensure their full participation? This session will bring together a unique group of individuals from the law school community, the legal profession, and undergraduate academic programs to discuss ways that your law school can welcome and support these students. This wide-ranging discussion will include thoughts on application gender questions, the use of preferred names and pronouns in the classroom, and other gender neutral affirming practices and policies.

 

Thursday, Jan. 4 

10:30am  AALS Open Source Program – Mainstreaming Feminism 

Moderator & Speaker: Brooke D. Coleman, Seattle University School of Law

Speakers:

Anastasia M. Boles, University of Arkansas at Little Rock, William H. Bowen School of Law
Linda A. Malone, William & Mary Law School
Elizabeth Y. McCuskey, University of Toledo College of Law
Elizabeth Porter, University of Washington School of Law

This panel presentation will take on a variety of subjects and examine their feminist implications. The panel will discuss papers involving business law, civil procedure, employment law, federal courts, and health law. The goal of the program is to de-compartmentalize feminism from other strains
of legal scholarship and inquiry by engaging scholars with interests independent of feminism and those with an interest primarily in feminism. What the panelists hope to ultimately achieve is a mainstreaming of feminism. Stated differently, the goal is to begin normalizing the consideration of intersectionality—including, but not limited to, feminism—within traditional legal scholarship to create a scholarly environment where this kind of inquiry is the norm and not just the panel regarding “other.”

 

Friday, Jan. 5

8:30am Rethinking Campus Response to Sexual Violence: Betsy DeVos, Title IX, and the Continuing Search for Access to Justice

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.

 

10:30am ALUMNI RELATIONS & DEVELOPMENT TRACK, Engaging Women Graduates – A Donor Discussion

Moderator: Emily Mullin, Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law

Speakers: Michelle Banks, Senior Advisor, BarkerGilmore LLC
Debbie Epstein Henry, DEH Consulting, Speaking, Writing; Bliss Lawyers

We all know that every journey begins with a single step, and this is especially true in the world of advancement. As we think of new ways to inspire and cultivate our donors, it is important first to consider how they would like to engage with the law school. As an example, alumni associations are increasingly engaging alumni through affinity-based programs, including both industry and cultural  affinities. Other schools are launching alumnae-specific networks to engage their female graduates in meaningful ways. In this session we will sit down with three law school alumnae leaders for a discussion about engaging women graduates, through programming and philanthropy, and will discuss their journeys from engagement to gift.

 

5:30pm Women's Leadership in Academia, sponsored by University of Georgia 

        Reception, panel, and roundtable discussion on advancing women law professors and administrators in leadership positions.

 

Saturday, Jan. 6

9:00am Women in Legal Education –Whispered Conversations Amplified 


Moderator: Kerri L. Stone, Florida International University College of Law

Speakers:

Marina Angel, Temple University, James E. Beasley School of Law
Ann Bartow, University of New Hampshire School of Law
Meera Deo, Thomas Jefferson School of Law
Angela Mae Kupenda, Mississippi College School of Law
Melissa E. Murray, University of California, Berkeley School of Law
Susan Westerberg Prager, Southwestern Law School

This program seeks to take what have traditionally been “whispered conversations” among women in the legal academy and amplify them by conducting them publicly and bringing them into the light. For too long, important issues unique to women in the legal academy have been discussed almost strictly among women who call one another after meetings, drop by one another’s offices, and pull one another aside in the hallways. This program seeks to de-stigmatize and include others in the discussion of issues like integrating feminism into one’s courses or scholarship, combating implicit bias in the classroom, and the unique challenges that women face when doing everything from assuming leadership positions to participating in faculty service and governance. A panel of senior professors, administrative leaders, and scholars who have thought or written about these and other issues attendant to being female in the legal academy will recount experiences, provide insight into the whispered conversations that they have had over the years, and inform a more public discussion that will normalize these issues and seek solutions.

Business meeting Women in Legal Education section at program conclusion.

 

10:30am Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Issues – Relationships Between Religious Exemptions and Principles of Equality and Inclusion 

Moderator: Jack B. Harrison, Northern Kentucky University, Salmon P. Chase College of Law

Speakers:

David B. Cruz, University of Southern California Gould School of Law
Louise Melling, Legal Director, American Civil Liberties Union Center for Liberty
Douglas NeJaime, Yale Law School
Shaakirrah Sanders, University of Idaho College of Law
Kyle C. Velte, Texas Tech University School of Law

U.S. law at all levels contains anti-discrimination provisions, designed to reflect principles of equality and inclusion. At the same time, areas of U.S. law reflect principles of religious accommodation and exemption, that are well ensconced in constitutional law. Yet religious rights and religious exemption laws have had a long history of conflict with anti-discrimination laws. The resolution of these conflicts has traditionally been that religious motivation did not generally provide exemptions from civil rights laws. This resolution, however, appears to be under increasing attack in recent years and the Supreme Court has modified that traditional approach with decisions such as Hosanna-Tabor and Hobby Lobby. This panel will examine these conflicts and explore how U.S. laws should best seek to achieve equality and inclusion for all.

 

2:15pm  Women in Legal Education Luncheon. Ticket price $75 per person.

 

1:30pm Women in Legal Education – Speed Mentoring

 

Also, there is a Nursing Parents Room available, a super cool app tracking the conference at Access to Justice, and a Twitter hashtag #AALS2018.

January 3, 2018 in Conferences, Gender | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Pew Research Survey Finds People Sense Significant Gender Differences

Pew Research Report, On Gender Differences: No Consensus on Nature v. Nurture

A new Pew Research Center survey finds that majorities of Americans say men and women are basically different in the way they express their feelings, their physical abilities, their personal interests and their approach to parenting. But there is no public consensus on the origins of these differences. While women who perceive differences generally attribute them to societal expectations, men tend to point to biological differences.

 

The public also sees vastly different pressure points for men and women as they navigate their roles in society. Large majorities say men face a lot of pressure to support their family financially (76%) and to be successful in their job or career (68%); much smaller shares say women face similar pressure in these areas. At the same time, seven-in-ten or more say women face a lot of pressure to be an involved parent (77%) and be physically attractive (71%). Far fewer say men face these types of pressures, and this is particularly the case when it comes to feeling pressure to be physically attractive: Only 27% say men face a lot of pressure in this regard.

 

When asked in an open-ended question what traits society values most in men and women, the differences were also striking. The top responses about women related to physical attractiveness (35%) or nurturing and empathy (30%). For men, one-third pointed to honesty and morality, while about one-in-five mentioned professional or financial success (23%), ambition or leadership (19%), strength or toughness (19%) and a good work ethic (18%). Far fewer cite these as examples of what society values most in women.

 

The survey also finds a sense among the public that society places a higher premium on masculinity than it does on femininity. About half (53%) say most people in our society these days look up to men who are manly or masculine; far fewer (32%) say society looks up to feminine women. Yet, women are more likely to say it’s important to them to be seen by others as womanly or feminine than men are to say they want others to see them as manly or masculine.

December 14, 2017 in Gender | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, December 11, 2017

MeToo is Really About Work, Not Sex

Rebecca Traister, This Moment Isn't (Just) About Sex. It's About Work

[I[n the midst of our great national calculus, in which we are determining what punishments fit which sexual crimes, it’s possible that we’re missing the bigger picture altogether: that this is not, at its heart, about sex at all — or at least not wholly. What it’s really about is work, and women’s equality in the workplace, and more broadly, about the rot at the core of our power structures that makes it harder for women to do work because the whole thing is tipped toward men.

 

Sexual assault is one symptom of that imbalance, but it is not the only one. ***

 

Because the thing that unites these varied revelations isn’t necessarily sexual harm, but professional harm and power abuse. These infractions and abuses are related, sometimes they are combined. But their impact, the reasons that they are sharing conversational and journalistic space during this reckoning, need to be clarified. We must regularly remind everyone paying attention that sexual harassment is a crime not simply on the grounds that it is a sexual violation, but because it is a form of discrimination.***

 

In other words, sexual harassment may entail behaviors that on their own would be criminal — assault or rape — but the legal definition of its harm is about the systemic disadvantaging of a gender in the public and professional sphere. And those structural disadvantages do not begin or end with the actual physical incursions — the groping, kissing, the rubbing up against. In fact, the gender inequity that creates the need for civil-rights protections is what has permitted so many of these trespasses to have occurred, so frequently, and for so long; gender inequity is what explains why women are vulnerable to harassment before they are even harassed; it explains why it’s difficult for them to come forward with stories after they have been harassed, why they are often ignored when they do; it clarifies why so many women work with or maintain relationships with harassers and why their reactions to those harassers become key to how they themselves will be evaluated, professionally. Gender inequity is cyclical, all-encompassing.

 

We got to where we are because men, specifically white men, have been afforded a disproportionate share of power. That leaves women dependent on those men — for economic security, for work, for approval, for any share of power they might aspire to. Many of the women who have told their stories have explained that they did not do so before because they feared for their jobs. When women did complain, many were told that putting up with these behaviors was just part of working for the powerful men in question — “That’s just Charlie being Charlie”; “That’s just Harvey being Harvey.” Remaining in the good graces of these men, because they were the bosses, the hosts, the rainmakers, the legislators, was the only way to preserve employment, and not just their own: Whole offices, often populated by female subordinates, are dependent on the steady power of the male bosses. ***

 

What’s more, to cross powerful men is to jeopardize not just an individual job in an individual office; it’s to risk far broader professional harm within whole professions where men hold sway, to cut yourself off from future opportunity. 

 

These are the economics of sexual harassment, but also, simply, of sexism.

 

What makes women vulnerable is not their carnal violability, but rather the way that their worth has been understood as fundamentally erotic, ornamental; that they have not been taken seriously as equalsthat they have been treated as some ancillary reward that comes with the kinds of power men are taught to reach for and are valued for achieving. How to make clear that the trauma of the smaller trespasses — the boob grabs and unwanted kisses or come-ons from bosses — is not necessarily even about the sexualized act in question; so many of us learned to maneuver around hands-y men without sustaining lasting emotional damage when we were 14. Rather, it’s about the cruel reminder that these are still the terms on which we are valued, by our colleagues, our bosses, sometimes our competitors, the men we tricked ourselves into thinking might see us as smart, formidable colleagues or rivals, not as the kinds of objects they can just grab and grope and degrade without consequence. It’s not that we’re horrified like some Victorian damsel; its that we’re horrified like a woman in 2017 who briefly believed she was equal to her male peers but has just been reminded that she is not, who has suddenly had her comparative powerlessness revealed to her.

December 11, 2017 in Equal Employment, Gender, Workplace | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Why You Should Stop Calling Women "Females"

6 Reasons You Should Stop Referring to Women as "Females" Right Now

  • 1. Because the words "female" and "woman" mean different things.
  • 2. Because reducing a woman to her reproductive abilities is dehumanizing and exclusionary.
  • 3. Because nobody casually refers to men as "males."
  • 4. Because it is most often used to imply inferiority or contempt.
  • 5. Because it's grammatically weird.
  • 6. And most importantly, because the word you're looking for already exists.

The Problem With Calling Women "Females"

For many who use the word, I'm sure it seems innocuous. If you listen closely to the howling winds of patriarchy, you can make out their cries: Why are women making such a big deal about one word? Aren't there more important issues, like rape? I don't mean anything negative by it. It's just a different way of saying "women."

No one is suggesting that calling women "females" is directly behind rape on college campuses and affordable access to birth control on Womanhood's List of Very Important Priorities. It is a simple and relatively contained issue—and the staunch resistance to such a simple issue is extremely telling.

Using "female" in this way is contrary to how we generally communicate. As noted above, "female" as a noun erases the subject—making "female" the subject of the sentence. In the most technical sense, it's correct, but by employing this word that is usually an adjective as a noun, you're reducing her whole personhood to the confines of that adjective. It's calling someone "a white" instead of a white person, "a black" instead of a black person, and so on.

"When you refer to a woman as a female, you're ignoring the fact that she is a female human," write Nigatu and Clayton, pointing out the connotation that follows: "It reduces a woman to her reproductive parts and abilities." The focus shifts away from the personal and onto onto her qualities as an object—qualities that have, historically, not been used in the best interest of women.

Why We Need to Reclaim the Word "Female"

Green and other linguists have long documented the innate misogyny of slang, where thousands of disparaging terms for women have proliferated over the years, with scant male equivalents. Indeed, the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) lists “female” as a disparaging term for men.

The OED goes on to note that since 1400, female has occasionally been used to describe one’s mistress, which could be seen as pejorative — as a sex object. As Katherine Martin, head of U.S. dictionaries at Oxford University Press, points out the term femalehas had depreciative connotations for longer than one might expect. She cites the OED’s original entry for female in 1895, in which the editors described its usage as “now commonly avoided by good writers, exc. with contemptuous implication.”

The simple solution seems to be to turn woman/women into an adjective: women Senators, women executives, a woman President. But I would argue that by allowing virtually every word that can be applied to women, except women, as negative we are helping men box us in with their “male gaze” of the English language, as Green puts it

November 28, 2017 in Gender, Pop Culture | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, November 27, 2017

Systemic Solutions for Sexual Harassment: Majority Women in the Board Room

A Bidder for the Weinstein Company Suggests a Rare Boardroom Set Up: A Majority Female Board

Maria Contreras-Sweet, who led the U.S. Small Business Administration under President Obama, has submitted a bid to acquire the Weinstein Co., the embattled film studio grappling with multiple allegations of sexual harassment or assault against its former co-chairman, Harvey Weinstein. It includes a group of investors with female leaders from private equity, venture capital and Hollywood, according to a source familiar with the deal. It proposes retaining the company's employees and has the blessing of lawyer Gloria Allred, who is representing some of Weinstein's accusers.

 

But one aspect of the bid is getting the most attention: Its proposal to install a majority-female board of directors, with Contreras-Sweet as chairman.

 

That's partly because, some researchers argue, having more women in leadership roles is a better answer to solving sexual harassment problems than installing more training programs or anti-harassment policies. Research has shown that having male-dominated management teams can lead to the tolerance of a sexualized environment, said Alexandra Kalev, a professor at Tel Aviv University and the co-author of a recent Harvard Business Review article on the topic. "Having more women in management increases the share of women who can work to promote women and create a working environment that allows women to flourish," she said.

 

Moreover, Kalev said, having more than just one or two token women on the board is important for female board members' contributions to be heard and for them to not be viewed as outsiders who represent a woman's point of view. She said research has shown that companies are actually more likely to adopt a diversity program when they have no women on the board than when 5 percent of the board is women. Having a single woman makes boards feel as though they've taken some action, and they "feel less of an urge to adopt programs that increase diversity."

 

It's not until they get to 15 or 20 percent of directors that they start to make a difference, Kalev said. "They're not seen as representing their gender anymore, but representing the board," she said. "It mainstreams women in positions of power."

 

Frequently cited research from 2006, based on interviews with female directors, also found that it seems to take at least three women for them to create "a critical mass where women are no longer seen as outsiders" and can influence decision-making.

 

I have written some about altering the gender balance on corporate boards, as well as balancing the power structures of other institutions such as legislative bodies, academia, and workplaces to reflect gender parity of 50/50 women.  Reconsidering the Remedy of Gender Quotas, Harvard J. Gender & Law Online (Nov. 2016).

 key feminist insight on these systemic problems has focused on the importance of power. The lack of women’s power as decision makers in the workplace, politics, or science means the perpetuation of the patriarchy (yes, patriarchy) and male privilege from the top down.
Generations at the top may be outdated, but they continue to transmit the same outmoded assumptions of women’s inferiority and disqualification, reinvigorating a new generation with the same discriminatory norms and practices.

November 27, 2017 in Business, Gender | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Considering Gender Performitivity in Anti-Discrimination Law

Ido Katri (Toronto), Transgender Intrasectionality: Rethinking Anti-Discrimination Law and Litigation, U. Penn. J. Law & Social Change 20.1

This article will puts a gender variant perspective on anti-discrimination law and litigation. It analyze trans right claims by synthesizing queer theory’s concept of performativity and critical race theory’s concept of intersectionality, to offer a new and original concept of legal “intrasectionality”, with far-reaching implications for rights-based litigation. Instead of considering how “legal men” are treated different than “legal women”, this article will ask whether a given gender variant individual is treated differently than one whose gender performance coheres to social standards. These inquiries into the intrasectionality of the sex category with respect to equality will set the stage for the claim that anti-discrimination law and litigation intertwines with performativity.

Ido Katri, The Banishment of Isaac: Racial Signifiers of Gender Performance, Univ. Toronto L.J. 68.1

This article suggests that a performative reading of discrimination cases allows for recognition of intersectional harms and facilitates a broader systemic account of exclusion from resources and opportunities. Revealing the protected category of sex as a prohibition against discrimination on the basis of gender performance, the article considers how signifiers marked on the gendered body constitute the protected categories relating to race and ethnicity as well. The article suggests that racial/ethnic signifiers and sex/gender performance function reciprocally to construct material realities of exclusion from resources and opportunities. Drawing on the trans position in anti-discrimination, the article offers a nuanced reading of discrimination suffered by Jews of Arab decent, the Mizrahim, under Israeli law. It shows that courts could address systemic aspects of individual claims by looking for the intersecting differentiating logics at the root of private discrimination. The article argues that protected legal categories do not reflect pre-legal truths but constitute them; that when the law prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex it prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender performance; and that gendered performance is always already marked by racial signifiers. Thus, by turning the legal gaze to racial signifiers of gender performance, intersecting harm can be accounted for.

November 15, 2017 in Gender, Theory | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, November 10, 2017

Gender Inequality Begins at Home

Where Do Kids Learn to Undervalue Women? From Their Parents.

Study after study shows that, among heterosexual parents, fathers — even the youngest and most theoretically progressive among them — do not partake generously of the workload at home. Employed women partnered with employed men carry 65 percent of the family’s child-care responsibilities, a figure that has held steady since the turn of the century. Women with babies enjoy half as much leisure time on weekends as their husbands. Working mothers with preschool-age children are 2 1/2 times as likely to performmiddle-of-the-night care as their husbands. And in hours not so easily tallied, mothers remain almost solely in charge of the endless managerial care that comes with raising children: securing babysitters, filling out school forms, sorting through hand-me-downs.

 

Empirical research shows that no domestic arrangement, not even one in which Mother works full time and Father is unemployed, results in child-care parity between heterosexual spouses. The story we tell ourselves, the one about great leaps toward the achievement of gender equality between parents, is a glass-half-full kind of interpretation. But the reality is a half-empty glass: While modern men and women espouse egalitarian ideals and report that their decisions are mutual, outcomes tend to favor fathers’ needs and goals much more than mothers’.

 

The result of this covert power imbalance is not a net zero. A growing body of research in family and clinical studies demonstrates that spousal equality promotes marital success and that inequality undermines it. And the disparity creates not only undue emotional, physical and financial strain on mothers, but also perpetuates attitudes about what is and should be acceptable — or even desirable — between a woman and a man, with children as their eager audience

 

Ideals are no substitute for behavior. What are kids to make of their father sitting on his phone reading Facebook while their mother scrambles to prepare them for the day? It’s not hard to predict which parent’s personhood those offspring will conclude is more valuable. Children are gender detectives, distinguishing between the sexes from as early as 18 months and using that information to guide their behavior, for example by choosing strongly stereotyped toys. And family research shows that men’s attitudes about marital roles, not women’s, are ultimately internalized by both their daughters and their sons. This finding is a testament to kids’ ability to identify implicit power, to parse whose beliefs are more important and therefore worth adopting as their own.

November 10, 2017 in Family, Gender | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, November 3, 2017

Cleaning in the Shadow of the Law: The Effect of Unilateral Divorce Laws on Men's Marital Investment in Housework

Jennifer Roff, Cleaning in the Shadow of the Law? Bargaining, Marital Investment, and the Impact of Divorce Law on Husbands' Intra-Household Work, 60 Journal of Law & Economics 115 (Jan. 2017)

Previous literature has established that unilateral divorce laws may reduce women's household work and overall marital investment. If unilateral divorce has differential costs by gender, it may impact household work by gender through bargaining channels. However, little research has examined how divorce laws affect men's levels and share of household production. To examine this, I use data on matched couples from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics and exploit time variation in state divorce laws. I find that unilateral divorce laws lead to a decrease in marital investment, as measured by mens' and women's household work. The evidence also supports a bargaining response to divorce laws, as fathers in states without joint-custody laws engage in a significantly higher share of household work under unilateral divorce than those in states with joint-custody laws, consistent with a higher cost of marital dissolution among fathers who stand to lose custody of their children.

November 3, 2017 in Family, Gender | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, November 2, 2017

The Gender Wage Gap and the Fair Calculations Act

William E. Even & David A. MacPherson, The Gender Wage Gap and the Fair Calculations Act

If enacted as a law, the Fair Calculations Act would require forensic economists to ignore an injured party’s gender when forecasting the loss in future earnings. We discuss how this would affect the size of awards for men and women, and some of the issues that would arise if the law is enacted. Of particular interest is the extent to which gender-differences in earnings, earnings growth, and work-life expectancy are the result of sex-discrimination in labor markets as opposed to sex-differences in preferences. We present evidence that gender differences in human capital characteristics explain a large share of gender differences in in labor market outcomes, there is considerable disagreement about how to interpret the results. We also show that gender differences are diminishing over time, but it is not likely that the gap will disappear in the near future. Finally, we discuss how forensic economists may have to rely on additional information when forecasting earnings if they are no longer allowed to use gender.

Here's the proposed federal Fair Calculations in Civil Damages Act which "prohibits courts from awarding damages to plaintiffs in civil actions using a calculation for projected future earning potential that takes into account a plaintiff's race, ethnicity, gender, religion, or actual or perceived sexual orientation."

November 2, 2017 in Courts, Gender | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Achieving Gender Parity on International Judicial and Monitoring Bodies

Achieving Gender Parity on International Judicial and Monitoring Bodies: Analysis of International Human Rights Laws and Standards Relevant to the GQUAL Campaign

Women are underrepresented in virtually every international body responsible for adjudicating, monitoring, and developing international law. As of February 2017, three of the 15 judges on the International Court of Justice are women; the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea has 21 judges, only one of whom is a woman; and the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia has no permanent women judges. This working paper analyzes the extent to which international human rights law and standards support the GQUAL Campaign’s call for States to pledge to achieve gender parity on international courts and monitoring bodies.

States establish the nominating or voting procedures that apply to any particular international body. There are a number of opportunities for States to shape the pool of applicants, the composition of any short list, and the final composition of the international body. Because States have a fundamental role in establishing the procedures and controlling the final outcome, the GQUAL Campaign calls on States to address underrepresentation by adopting measures to rectify the gender imbalance on international judicial and monitoring bodies.

The Campaign is rooted in well-established and widely accepted provisions of international law. Article 8 of the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women (“CEDAW”) establishes the right of women to represent their governments at the international level, on equal terms with men and without discrimination, and to participate in the work of international organizations. To gain a fuller understanding of the international legal basis for gender parity in addition to the CEDAW framework, this working paper identifies and analyzes complementary international human rights law standards pertinent to the GQUAL Declaration found in the UN Charter, selected international human rights treaties, UN resolutions, and policy statements.

The absence of women in equal numbers with men as international judges and members of human rights monitoring bodies is a grave issue. Gender disparities in international institutions undermine the international commitment to equality and non-discrimination. Further, the lack of gender parity erodes the legitimacy of international legal institutions and their mandates to uphold these universal values. This working paper contributes to the effort to address this gap by drawing attention to the scope of international human rights law and standards that can be marshaled to ground the GQUAL Declaration in international law and accepted best practices.

October 25, 2017 in Courts, Gender, International | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, October 20, 2017

A History of the Word "Ladies"

Jessica Halem and Jen Manion, Why Do You Call Us Ladies? History, Gender and Manners in Public Life

It seems as if the term ‘ladies’ has made a comeback in public life. No matter where we are — in a small town or big city, in the gayborhood or a mainstream hotspot — strangers greet us the same way: “Hello, ladies;” or “What can I get you ladies?” And we are not alone. Hosts, servers, and salespeople everywhere address those they presume to be women, as ‘ladies,’ without a thought about the meaning or history of the term. People who are more masculine than your average cisgender guy; people who engage in public displays of queer affection; people who are femme, athletic, punky, androgynous, or professional are all addressed as ‘ladies’ now. The question is, why?

The term ‘ladies’ itself has a history that illuminates how power, privilege, and oppression have functioned throughout American history. From early modern times through much of the twentieth century, the term ‘lady’ signified women with power and authority over others by virtue of their race, class, marriage, or ancestry. A lady was a queen or head of household who oversaw subjects, children, servants, and slaves. As Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham notes, “Ladies were not merely women; they represented a class, a differentiated status within the generic category of “women.”” During Reconstruction, for example, married black women who didn’t work outside of the home and aspired to such status were socially condemned for even trying. A lady was a quintessentially normative white woman who set the standards by which other women were judged.

While the social and political criteria for addressing a singular woman as ‘lady’ remained intact for centuries, the plural version of the term proved more flexible. ‘Ladies’ became a polite form of address to a general group of women on their own or with men, as in ‘ladies and gentleman,’ a phrase that is still commonly used to this day. Even though ‘ladies’ could be used interchangeably with ‘women,’ it also retained an element of specificity throughout the nineteenth century. Nowhere was this more evident than in the difference between sex-segregation of spaces and the designation of certain areas for ‘ladies.’

Sex-segregation itself was routinized in American life by the state in late eighteenth and early nineteenth century carceral institutions, from almshouses and prisons to asylums. Voluminous reports documenting carceral life designated groups of people “females or males” and declared certain spaces for “women or men” — but never for ‘ladies.’ The Philadelphia House of Refuge, for example, had “male and female” departments. The only ‘ladies’ who set foot there were elite reformers who visited as part of their service on the ‘ladies committee.’

The emergence of ‘ladies’ rooms in the later decades of the nineteenth century signaled something different. Special spaces for ‘ladies’ in department stores, libraries, trains, and restaurants were seen as a way to carry a bit of the protective tranquility associated with the domestic realm into public areas. It matters that they were called ‘ladies’ rooms and not women’s rooms. ‘Ladies’ rooms were not intended for poor, black, immigrant and working women who already moved around in public; invisible to the protective gaze that followed and constrained elite white women. Under Jim Crow segregation, for instance, black women regardless of class were not allowed to use the ‘ladies’ rooms. In 1887, Massachusetts and New York were the first two states to pass laws that required employers provide separate restrooms for women. This extension of ‘ladies’ spaces to workers was an expansion of the protective ideal that rendered some women more precious and fragile than men.

 For a prior related post, ladies in sports teams

October 20, 2017 in Gender, Pop Culture | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

McDonald's Moms v. Organic Moms: Regulating Motherhood

Kate Cairns, Josée Johnston & Merin Oleschuk, Calibrating Extremes: The Balancing Act of Maternal Foodwork

When it comes to feeding children, mothers today must avoid the appearance of caring too little, or too much. Either extreme garners social stigma, although the penalties are far from equal.

 

As mothers in our study distanced themselves from an unhealthy “Other” who made poor food choices, we were surprised how frequently McDonald’s entered the conversation. McDonald’s seemed to function as a trope symbolizing “easy” meals, “unhealthy” choices, and “bad” mothering more generally. Gail (white, acupuncturist) contrasted her vision of healthy home cooking with a “stereotypical image of someone stopping at McDonald’s to get food for their kids.” Marissa (Black, project manager) confessed that as “busy people we do need to do fast food,” but clarified that “my kids will tell you that does not mean McDonald’s.” Lucia (Latina, social worker) said she and her son “talk about what’s junk and you know, McDonald’s and all that kind of food” in an effort to teach him “what’s healthy, what’s not healthy.”

 

Again and again, mothers distanced themselves from the figure of the “McDonald’s Mom,” a stigmatized “Other” they used to defend their own feeding practices. While this defense may seem judgmental, we suggest mothers’ efforts to establish this distance reflect the intense pressures they experience feeding their children. These pressures are especially penalizing for poor women who struggle to feed kids on a limited budget and racialized women who face enduring racist stereotypes about parenting and food choices. Indeed, the assumption that poor mothers make inferior food choices is evident in recent calls to restrict what can be purchased on SNAP benefits, undermining the essential role of government assistance in mitigating the effects of poverty.

 

When distancing their own feeding practices from “bad” ones, some mothers described feeding their children an organic diet – a resource-intensive practice that has become a gold standard of middle-class motherhood. Mothers today face considerable pressure to purchase ‘pure’ foods that are free of harmful chemical additives; this “intensive feeding ideology” involves the added work of researching products, reading labels, and making baby food from scratch.***

 

Our point is not to equate these uneven penalties, but to draw attention to the multiple ways mothers are harshly judged for their foodwork. Notably, comparable figures of the “McDonald’s” or “Organic Dad” did not emerge in our broader study (which included men), revealing the continued gendered burden of feeding children and the more flexible standards fathers face when doing this work.

 

What became clear throughout our research is that mothers from diverse backgrounds face pressure to continually monitor their children’s eating in ways that are careful and responsible, yet don’t appear obsessive or controlling. We call this process calibration – the constant balancing act of striving for an elusive maternal ideal. Calibration is labor-intensive and emotionally taxing, part of the seemingly impossible task of performing the “good” mother. If you opt for affordability or convenience, you risk being seen as a McDonald’s Mom. If you take your job as health-protector tooseriously, you may be deemed an obsessive Organic Mom who deprives her kids of childhood joys like hotdogs. These gendered pressures not only contribute to mother-blame, but distract us from the larger harms perpetuated by an unhealthy, unsustainable, and unjust food system.

October 18, 2017 in Family, Gender, Pop Culture, Poverty | Permalink | Comments (0)

32 Years of Equality Advocacy in Canada

Jena McGill & Daphne Gilbert, Of Promise and Peril: The Court and Equality Rights, 78 Supreme Court Law Review (2d) 235 (2017)

In this brief reflection, we look back on 32 years of equality advocacy and outcomes at the Supreme Court of Canada. We recount the fraught trajectory of the Supreme Court of Canada’s section 15 jurisprudence over the past decades, tracing the evolution of three distinct approaches to equality rights and highlighting the unique role that the Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund (LEAF) and its feminist equality advocacy has played in shaping the Court’s jurisprudence at each stage of section 15’s life. We then look to the future of section 15, suggesting that recent jurisprudence indicates the emergence of a new era in equality rights at the Supreme Court characterized by a distinct turning away from section 15 arguments. We offer some preliminary comments on what this trend might mean for the future of equality rights and for the future of feminist litigation strategies under the Charter, arguing that some of LEAF’s ideas about how to pursue substantive equality under section 15 that have not been acknowledged by the Court offer promising new directions for the next chapter of section 15 jurisprudence. We conclude that while under the current state of section 15 jurisprudence equality rights may be imperilled, the promise of section 15 remains.

October 18, 2017 in Courts, Gender, International | Permalink | Comments (0)