Saturday, August 23, 2014
Dahlia Lithwick, Justice Stephen Breyer: Feminist
Amid all the gender talk, then, it’s been no surprise that, as Lyle Denniston noted last month, the headlines across the boards this summer have trumpeted the notion that the women were applying a special kind of women’s justice at the highest court in the land, and that their gender is influencing their votes, whether or not you agree with the legal outcomes. And that’s why it’s worth offering up a brief shout out to the unsung feminist at the court, Justice Stephen Breyer, who has consistently voted alongside the court’s three women on virtually all gender issues and nobody has yet made a Tumblr for him.
Last month, Michelle Miers was shot and stabbed at her home by an attacker. Still breathing but in need of urgent medical care, she picked up her cellphone and dialed 9-1-1. Like most Americans, Miers probably presumed that calling 9-1-1 guaranteed help was on the way. For the 26-year-old mother of two, however, help would come too late—not because Miers was too far away, or because her wounds were already too severe, but because police and paramedics couldn’t figure out where she was.
Miers is one of more than an estimated 10,000 Americans who will die this year because wireless companies don’t transmit precise enough location data to 9-1-1 operators, leaving police unable to locate victims. In Miers’ case, responders were left scrambling door-to-door for 20 minutes before they spotted the apartment building with broken glass in the entryway where Miers lay covered in blood.
Thursday, August 21, 2014
As former social chair of the Sigma Chi fraternity at Harvard University, Malik Gill wants to appear especially welcoming to girls who come to the house for parties.
Yet, Gill, who starts his junior year in a few weeks, says he won’t be offering a female classmate a beer.
“I don’t want to look like a predator,” the 20-year-old economics major said. “It’s a little bit of a blurred line.”
Chinese men in rural villages are paying $3200 to families (parents, usually) to sell their daughters in rural Vietnam for marriage.
Their marriages were arranged for cash, but some of the Vietnamese women who have found unlikely Prince Charmings in remote Chinese villages say they are living happily ever after.
"Economically, life is better here in China," said Nguyen Thi Hang, one of around two dozen women from Vietnam who have married men in Linqi.
Jason Nance (Florida) and Paul Madsen (Florida), An Empirical Analysis of Diversity in the Legal Profession, Connecticut L. Rev. (forthcoming).
In contrast to prior studies, we find that, although woefully underrepresented as a whole in the legal profession, the representation of young African Americans and Hispanic Americans in the legal profession is comparable to the representation of these groups in other prestigious professions. This finding suggests that the underrepresentation of African Americans and Hispanic Americans in the legal profession may be caused primarily by social forces external to the legal profession, and that, in addition to continuing its current diversity efforts, the legal profession should put a concentrated emphasis on initiatives that assist these underrepresented groups to become eligible to pursue all types of prestigious employment opportunities that have significant barriers to entry. Further, we find that Asian Americans, in contrast to other minorities, are very poorly represented in the legal profession as compared to other prestigious professions. Finally, there is some evidence suggesting that women are relatively well represented in the legal profession when compared to other prestigious professions until recently, when they appear to have become slightly underrepresented. This recent drop may be caused by the failure of the legal profession to provide just and inclusive workplaces, leading to greater dissatisfaction and higher attrition rates among female associates.
Local Mom Decides Important Sports Case. Sportcasters have discounted federal judge Claudia Wilken who decided O'Bannon v. NCAA, the landmark case that challenged the NCAA’s longstanding treatment of its college athletes, by describing her as "local PTA mom." Its not her Stanford or Berkeley education nor decades of legal and judicial experience that informed her decision, but her motherly work on the PTA.
[NYT Sportswriter] writes that her “decision [in O’Bannon] may be interpreted much the way her advice at school meetings often was: Let’s work it out, through dialogue and compromise.” If decades of legal experience can’t explain what made Wilken capable of presiding over the O'Bannon case, perhaps her stint in the PTA will.
Tuesday, August 19, 2014
A whole lot of judges who are being asked to decide whether states may ban same-sex couples from marrying think the Supreme Court clearly gave them the answer last year: no.
But a few judges think the Supreme Court provided the answer more than 40 years ago: yes.
That reading comes from a one-sentence order the court issued in a 1972 case, Baker v. Nelson, which said there was no “substantial federal question” in a state’s decision to ban same-sex marriages.
The dismissal of that long-ago case might be the reason that same-sex marriage supporters see their winning streak in federal courts come to an end.
Tracy had posted about three female professors at Northeastern who had been denied tenure recently. On a related note, there is an article in Inside Higher Ed which takes note that more men than women have gained and are likely to gain tenure. The question, of course, is why.
In discussions about the gender gap among tenured professors at research universities, there is little dispute that there are far more men than women with tenure in most disciplines. But why? Many have speculated that men are outperforming women in research, which is particularly valued over teaching and service at research universities. With women (of those with children) shouldering a disproportionate share of child care, the theory goes, they may not be able to keep up with publishing and research to the same extent as their male counterparts.
Not only are men more likely than women to earn tenure, but in computer science and sociology, they are significantly more likely to earn tenure than are women who have the same research productivity. In English men are slightly (but not in a statistically significant way) more likely than women to earn tenure.
“It’s not that we need to make women more productive. It’s that we need to change the processes," said Kate Weisshaar, a graduate student at Stanford University who did the study.
Check out IHE article for Weisshaar's study.
Highlights of the July 2014 Issue of The Federal Lawyer magazine on "Women in Law" include
Ruth Ann French-Hodson, The Continuing Gender Gap in Legal Education (WL Link), reporting the results of a law-school study conducted by Yale Law Women.
Gender disparity in law school continues both inside and out of the classroom. These effects spill over as women enter the legal workforce and are exacerbated by similar institutional problems across the profession. Additionally, the legal profession has played a role in perpetuating some of the education structures that alienate and disadvantage women through prioritizing certain markers of taw school success. Change will not automatically happen over time; it requires commitment and action from students, faculty, administrators, and the broader legal profession.
Melanie Wilson (Assoc. Dean, Kansas), Sentencing Inequality Versus Sentencing Injustice (WL Link):
This essay considers the empirical evidence showing that women receive more lenient treatment from the American criminal justice system than men. It recognizes that this may be attributed to stereotypes about women as the weaker sex or to gender bias from prosecutors and judges, but ultimately rejects both scenarios. The essay argues that disparities in the way women are prosecuted and sentenced are more likely linked to legitimate differences in women's culpability compared to their male counterparts and that this mirrors current societal influences, including unequal opportunities for women in training, employment, pay, and similar factors.
Zeenat Shaukat Ali, The Dynamic Nature of Islam's Legal System with References to Muslim Women.
Some have criticized Muslim law as being oppressive of women. This article challenges that notion by encouraging the reconsideration of some of the interpretations of Muslim law. Specifically, the article examines some of the law's foundational tenets and philosophies, arguing that they have either been misapplied or should be reconsidered in light of their true meaning. Ultimately, the article concludes that, in changing the paradigm of gender-related issues, the understanding of the dynamic nature of shari'ah, with several legal mechanisms at its command, could play a major role in shaping and effecting reform and restoring the rights of women bestowed on them by the Quran.
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."
Monday, August 18, 2014
Good luck getting a teaching job in São Paulo if you’re a woman who doesn’t want to undergo a pap smear or have a doctor certify your virginity in a written note. As outlined by a 2012 law that might well have been written decades (or even centuries) earlier, women who wish to become teachers in Brazil’s most populous state must undergo invasive gynecological exams to test for a variety of cancers, ostensibly to determine if the candidates pose a risk of taking extended absences to cope with an illness.
Sunday, August 17, 2014
Saturday, August 16, 2014
From WaPo, She the People, Brigid Schulte, Study: Uncivil Work Environment Pushing Women Out of the Engineering Field
[A] new National Science Foundation report released on Saturday about why so few women go into engineering, or stay in the field, highlights a key reason: a workplace culture of incivility toward women.
“I wouldn’t call it a hostile environment, but it’s definitely chilly,” said Nadya Fouad, a professor of educational psychology at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, who presented the results to the American Psychological Association in a talk entitled “Leaning In, But Getting Pushed Back (and Out.)”
Fouad and her colleagues surveyed more than 5,000 women who had graduated from some of the top universities with engineering degrees over the past six decades and found that 40 percent had either quit the field or never entered the profession in the first place.
For more than two decades, women have accounted for about 20 percent of all engineering degrees. Yet fewer than 11 percent of all engineers are women. And this despite a massive funding effort to get more people into STEM fields – $3.4 billion in federal funds for STEM education since fiscal 2010, with $13 million targeted directly at women.And while caregiving responsibilities – the stereotypical view for why women leave demanding professions – played a role in some decisions, for the most part Fouad found that what really pushed women out were uncivil workplace climates, the expectation to put in long hours of face time in the office, and the perception that there was little opportunity to advance.
Thursday, August 14, 2014
Women in France can now end a first-trimester pregnancy for any reason — and the full cost of the abortion will be financed by the government — under asweeping new gender equality law approved on Tuesday. The new policy amends the country’s existing abortion law, which currently allows women to get an abortion only if they can prove they’re in “emotional distress.”
From the Irish Times:
....many members of the trans community still exist on the fringes of Irish society and experience high levels of stigmatisation and discrimination.
A major cause of the marginalisation of trans people in Ireland is the lack of State recognition of trans identities. While you can change your gender marker on certain documents such as your passport or driving licence, there is no legal process to change the gender on your birth cert.
People are forcibly “outed” every time they are asked to produce a birth certificate. Young people miss out on their college places because the CAO office has no capacity for dealing with trans people. Trans people have to explain ourselves – to validate our identity – over and over. But legal gender recognition goes beyond the practicalities of daily life; it is about the State recognising that we exist.
Jennifer Denbow (New England), has published The Pedagogy of Rape Law, 64 J. Legal Educ. 16 (Aug. 2014). Her research suggests that
instructors of criminal law, perhaps particularly male professors, have anxiety about teaching the law of rape. Indeed, as I began to research the pedagogy of rape law, I discovered that this anxiety is relatively common and that, in response, some instructors either do not teach rape law in their courses or they teach it, as my own professor did, in a manner entirely different from the way they teach other criminal law subjects. ***
In this article I consider some potential roots of the anxiety surrounding the
teaching of rape law and its actual or perceived explosiveness. In particular, I
argue that the crime of rape implicates issues of identity, gender and emotion.
I explore how the politics of identity figures in the emotional intensity of
rape and in the anxiety around teaching rape law. I argue that the identity
politics framework and its epistemology would stifle classroom discussion and
reinforce problematic understandings of female and male identity. Although I
am critical of the politics of identity, I also argue that it challenges in important
ways many deep-seated assumptions about law, reason and objectivity and
is thus especially threatening to those law professors who take these things
for granted. Emphasizing that rape is too difficult to teach because it is an
emotional topic may mask the deeper ways in which a discussion of rape—particularly an analysis that views it as oppressive of women thus giving them special standing to analyze it—challenges ideas law professors take for granted, such as their own authority, rationality and objectivity. Moreover, it is in part emotion itself that grounds this challenge.
Given the very public debate and confusion over what constitutes rape--from discussions of "legitimate rape," campus assaults, and consent, it seems that avoiding or minimizing the topic of rape in law school is now more problemmatic than ever.
Last week a Council on Contemporary Families online symposium provided new data suggesting that the stall in progress on gender egalitarian attitudes and behaviors has ended. Evidence has accumulated, and a stall in attitudes that started around 1994 may have turned around after 2004.
When they can't even wait until you are actually pregnantly disabled to fire you.
In Cadenas v. Butterfield Health Care II, Inc. (N.D. Ill. 7/15/14), a federal court asked the question of whether an employer could terminate a pregnant employee on the basis of its inability to accommodate her future pregnancy-related job restrictions. Even though the employee won this battle, the employer really won the war.
What can we learn from this case?
- It is okay not to accommodate a pregnant employees’ restrictions, as long as there is no evidence of providing accommodations to other employees with similarly debilitating medical conditions. Given the scope of the definition of “disability” under the ADA, coupled with the ADA’s reasonable accommodation requirements, this might be a high hurdle to overcome, this case notwithstanding. Also, don't forget about the EEOC's recent sweeping Enforcement Guidance on this issue.
- If a pregnant employee tells you that she will be unable to perform at some point in the future, wait until that time to terminate her. This employer could have saved itself a headache of a lawsuit by waiting five weeks to fire Cadenas. Of course, winning a lawsuit is relative, and if you could made the argument that employer won this case because it limited its potential exposure for economic damages to five weeks' back pay, I would not disagree with you.
Tuesday, August 12, 2014
(an oldie from the classic film....)
And something new....
Commentary from the Guardian UK:
From men in wigs in the 1700s, to David Bowie and Diane Keaton’s Annie Hall in the 1970s, fashion has long toyed with gender boundaries. But this coming season, a new trend of gender-flouting suggests the next phase will be less about men in skirts, and more about men and women sharing skirts. Welcome to the world of gender-neutral fashion.
An as yet untitled new documentary produced by Lena Dunham’s company, A Casual Romance Productions, is set to chart the growth in gender-nonconforming fashion. Its main subject, Rachel Tutera, 29, who works for New York tailors Bindle & Keep and describes herself as “a clothier to the LGBTQ community”, began making bespoke suits for women after years of struggling to find clothes that suited her tomboy style. “I got used to wearing clothes that hid me,” she says. “Having this suit made for me basically reintroduced me to my body. I think people see me in a way that may actually align with how I see myself.”
South Korea, like some other nations, has compulsory military service for its young men. Recently, there have been very troubling reports of harassment and bullying by male superiors against their inferiors. Deaths, including suicides and fatal beatings, have resulted, apparent consequences of a dangerous culture of masculinity.
The story here.