Gender and the Law Prof Blog

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

Monday, September 7, 2015

"Uneven Wages Cast Shadow Over Labor Day"


From US News & World Report: 

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 made it illegal for employers to discriminate against prospective workers based on gender, race or religious preference. But that doesn't mean pay gaps don't exist. An income and poverty report published last year by the U.S. Census Bureau found significant disparities in median household incomes based on race; Asian households brought in $67,065 at the end of 2013, while African-American homes posted $34,598 in annual median income.

Another report from the Economic Policy Institute, drawing in part on Census Bureau data, found that median household incomes for Caucasian male full-time employees hovered around $72,530, significantly higher than African-Americans ($51,610) and Hispanics ($43,240). Female employees' earnings were significantly weaker across the board.


And the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates women spent more than twice as much time caring for and helping children in the household as men did in 2014.

“Women who have taken some time out of the workforce to do care-giving maybe are not able to come back at the same level. They’ve missed a couple steps on the career ladder,” Robbins says. “Women’s disproportionate representation in the lower paid jobs, and, conversely, their lack of representation in some of the best-paid jobs, really does feed into the wage gap.”

Full-time work more often than not offers greater annual earnings than a part-time job, but a greater percentage of women than men isn't enjoying a standard 40-hour work week. The Labor Department estimates 74 percent of working women were employed full-time in 2013, while 24 percent worked part time. That's compared to 86.9 percent of employed men who work full-time and only 13.1 percent who work part-time.

September 7, 2015 in Race, Work/life, Workplace | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, July 18, 2015

The Invisible Plight of Black Women in the Justice System

Sandra Bland and the Invisible Plight of Black Women in the Justice System

And in Waller County, Texas, days before she was scheduled to start a new job at her alma mater, Sandra Bland died in police custody. Officers contend she hung herself, but family and friends suspect foul play — especially since video shows officers slamming her head to the ground three days earlier.


Due in large part to social media, Bland’s death has received a lot of attention since the video of her arrest was circulated. And the FBI has already joined the investigation into her death.


”Prevailing narratives around Black violability and anti-Black racial violence pivot around Black men and boys,” Dr. Treva B. Lindsey, assistant professor of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies told DAME. “Both historically and contemporarily, when many people working towards racial justice around the issue of racial violence, the presumptive victim is a Black male. From lynching to police brutality, the presumed victim is a Black male. Therefore, Black women and girls are viewed as exceptional victims as opposed to perpetual victims of anti-Black racial violence.”

July 18, 2015 in Race | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, July 13, 2015

White women and racist violence

A bit dated by cyberspace terms but still worth reading from the New Republic: 

We cannot talk about the violence that Dylann Roof perpetrated at Emanuel AME last Wednesday night without talking about whiteness, and specifically, about white womanhood and its role in racist violence. We have to talk about those things, because Roof himself did. Per a witness account, we know that he said: “You rape our women and you’re taking over our country.” “Our” women, by whom he meant white women.

There is a centuries-old notion that white men must defend, with lethal violence at times, the sexual purity of white women from allegedly predatory black men. And, as we saw yet again after this shooting, it is not merely a relic of America’s hideous racial past. American racism is always gendered; racism and sexism are mutually dependent, and cannot be unstitched.

July 13, 2015 in Manliness, Masculinities, Race, Violence Against Women | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

79 percent of elected prosecutors are white men

From the Guardian UK: 

White Americans make up 95% of elected prosecutors across the US, according to a study that cites the non-indictments of white police officers in the high-profile deaths of unarmed black men as the “shocking” reality of a disproportionate and non-diverse criminal justice system that relies on prosecutorial power.

The study, from the San Francisco-based Women’s Donor Network, also found that that just 17% of elected prosecutors in the US are women – and just 1% are women of color.

The combination of these racial and gender disparities means that white men, who represent 31% of the population, hold 79% of the 2,437 elected prosecutors in the country at a time when growing attention to issues of misrepresentation in the criminal justice system has led to calls for reform.

July 8, 2015 in Manliness, Masculinities, Race, Work/life, Workplace | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Dolezal and Jenner

Interesting piece from the Boston Globe

Rachel Dolezal (left) and Caitlyn Jenner.

 If we accept that gender is fluid — a reflection of some inexplicable spiritual thing inside of us — why not race? Why do we police the boundaries of blackness more rigorously than we police womanhood?

The general consensus seems to be that as much as we want to do away with racial differences and as deeply as we believe in race as a social construct, we can’t accept Dolezal as a black woman trapped in a spray-tanned blonde’s body.

“Rachel Dolezal . . . may be connected to black communities and feel an affinity with the styles and cultural innovations of black people,” Alicia Walters, a black woman from Spokane wrote in The Guardian. “But the black identity cannot be put on like a pair of shoes.”

But wait a minute. I thought we just agreed that the female identity can be put on like a red mini-dress by Donna Karan. What gives? How can blackness — with all its shades and incredible diversity — be more immutable than manhood itself?

June 17, 2015 in LGBT, Manliness, Masculinities, Race | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Mixed-Race Miss Japan

From the NYT: 

TOKYO — WHEN Ariana Miyamoto was crowned Miss Universe Japan 2015, participants said she stole the show with a saucy strut, an infectious smile and a calm self-confidence that belied her 21 years. But it was not just her beauty and poise that catapulted her to national attention.

Ms. Miyamoto is one of only a tiny handful of “hafu,” or Japanese of mixed race, to win a major beauty pageant in proudly homogeneousJapan. And she is the first half-black woman ever to do so.

May 30, 2015 in International, Race | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

law faculty diversity is apparently thriving

An article by Jim Lindgren so argues.

How diverse are tenured and tenure-track law faculties? Which ethnic and gender groups are now the most under- and over-represented in law teaching compared to a very broad measure of the pool: English-fluent, full-time working lawyers of a similar age?

In “Measuring Diversity: Law Faculties in 1997 and 2013,” which can be downloaded from SSRN, I explore tenure-track law school diversity in 1997 and 2013. For the gender and ethnicity of law professors in 2013, I use data released by the ABA, representing the 2013-2014 academic year. For the lawyer population, I use data from the government’s 2011-2013 American Communities Surveys.

This study finds that diversity hiring in law schools has been a great success, at least as to ethnicity and gender. All large traditional affirmative-action groups in law teaching are now at or above parity with full-time lawyers, and such groups as women, minorities, and minority women are significantly over-represented in law teaching compared to working lawyers. Indeed, the only ethnic and gender groups that are more than a half slot short of parity on a typical tenure-track faculty of about forty are non-Hispanic whites, males, and non-Hispanic white males, the groups typically thought of as over-represented.

May 20, 2015 in Education, Gender, Race | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, April 11, 2015

The Impact of Abortion Laws on Women of Color

April Shaw (Arizona), How Race-Selective and Sex-Selective Bans on Abortion Expose the Color-Coded Dimensions of the Right to Abortion and Deficiencies in Constitutional Protections for Women of Color, NY Review of Law & Social Change (forthcoming)

The Supreme Court’s framework on the right to abortion as articulated in Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey fails to take into account how race impacts women’s access to abortion. I argue that the race “neutral” framework of Casey’s undue burden test simultaneously erases the racial context of abortion and imposes a conceptual blind spot on how race is used to place a greater burden on women of color relative to white women. Specifically, States are using race to burden women’s access to abortion, but because the right to abortion does not explicitly take race into account, race is not used to measure whether regulations pose a heavier burden on certain groups of women. Applying race as a conceptual lens of analysis is not about inserting race into the legal framework, it is about showing how the current legal framework obscures the impact of race and almost inevitably perpetuates racial stereotypes, disproportionate burdens, and racial inequalities so as to systematically ensure that the right to an abortion as a fundamental right is less secure for women of color.

April 11, 2015 in Abortion, Race | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Toward an Intellectual History and Political Influence of Black Women

From Al Brophy at The Faculty Lounge, Jones on Lynch Nomination

Martha Jones of the University of Michigan's history department and law school has an op-ed at Huffington Post on Loretta Lynch's nomination to be attorney general and the increasing political influence of African American women.  Let me use this as an opportunity to mention, as well, the book that Martha has just co-edited, Toward an Intellectual History of Black Women.  This obviously builds on Martha's pioneering book on African American women and political ideology in the nineteenth century, All Bound Up Together.

April 9, 2015 in Books, Race, Women lawyers | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Conference: Reframing the Welfare Queen

At USC School of Law, Reframing the Welfare Queen: Feminist and CRT Alternatives to Existing Poverty Discourse

This year marks the fiftieth anniversary of the Moynihan Report, a Senate report issued in 1965 that pathologized the creation of black, female single-parent households with long- term dependence on state assistance programs, and in this way laid the political foundation for the political construct known as the "welfare queen." The "welfare queen construct" has played a key role in political debates and facilitated the transformation of public assistance programs. For the past fifty years it has played a prominent role in presidential politics, shaping discussions of poverty during the Reagan, Clinton and even Obama presidencies. Moreover, the construct led to a spate of concrete policy changes in 1996, ones that transformed older open-ended welfare programs into TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families). Many TANF features are direct responses to the threat of the welfare queen, including: family caps limiting benefit levels for families above a certain size; workfare programs requiring welfare recipients to work; and strict time limits that sunset welfare benefits after a set number of years.


Numerous scholars, activists and commentators have explored how the welfare queen construct is used to demonize poor women of color in need of state assistance programs. And while the critiques launched by these early conversations about the welfare queen have been important in opening a much-needed dialogue about the needs of the poor, this conference attempts to move us beyond discussions that isolate poor minority female welfare recipients as a special class. Instead the conference explores how the construct of the welfare queen imposes costs on us all, by revealing the hidden institutional norms naturalized by the construct and the cultural anxieties it creates that prevent people from seeking state assistance. Our project is to "reframe" the welfare queen - to challenge the ways in which claims of need are represented as pathological by the state; feminized and racialized in ways that marginalize and render invisible certain needy communities; and foreclose recognition of certain kinds of "need" and certain relationships of support between the individual and the State. By "reframing" the welfare queen have an opportunity to image new forms of governmental assistance that might better match up with the working poor's needs and lived experiences and with feminist values and anti-poverty advocates' goals and understandings.

April 7, 2015 in Conferences, Poverty, Race | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Book Review: Black Women, Mothering and the Academy

Nicole TruesdellMotherhood in the Ivory Tower

Nzinga-Johnson, Sekile.  Laboring Positions. Black Women, Mothering and the Academy.   2013. Demeter Press: Ontario


When I offered to review Nzinga-Johnson’s 2013 edited volume on Black women and mothering in the academy I felt compelled to do so as I needed to read something that directly addressed the intersections of my identity as a Black woman, recent mother, professor and administrator.  Recent books about women being mothers in the academy have privileged a worker/mother dichotomy that tends to elevate the “worker” identity above that of the mother. This divide did not speak to neither my colleagues of color’s nor my experiences after becoming mothers and performing more care-related work (mentoring, community building, activism) on our college and university campuses.  I know that as a working Black mother in the academy my story is not unique, but it is one that if often unheard, under valued, and silenced within the halls of the ivory tower.


That silence is being undone with the publication of Nzinga-Johnson’s 2013 edited volume: Laboring Positions: Black Women, Mothering and the Academy.  The fourteen articles in this edited volume speak to the various experiences of Black women, Black mothers, and mothering/care work done in the academy.  Using a variety of methods and disciplinary perspectives, Laboring Positions is grounded overall in Black and intersectional feminist understandings of mothering/motherhood. 

March 5, 2015 in Books, Race | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

A Black Feminist Critique of Arquette's Oscar Speech

From Salon:

 Black women have a long history of advocating for fair wages and access to decent employment opportunities for African-American communities. In her recent remarks at the Academy Awards championing the fight against wage inequality, Patricia Arquette seemed wholly unaware of these histories, elaborating backstage that it was now time for all other groups to fight for white women, because they had fought for everybody else.


In 1920 or thereabouts, famed Washington, D.C., educator Nannie Helen Burroughs helped to found the National Association of Wage Earners as both an advocacy group and a training resource for working class black women. Addressing employment inequality and wage inequality for newly freed black women entering the workforce after Emancipation, and later for black women from the South who had migrated North, was a hallmark of black women’s organizing in the late 19th century and the early 20th century. At the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893, Fannie Barrier Williams, a socialite, club woman and budding political theorist told the crowd, “in the item of employment, colored women bear a distressing burden of mean and unreasonable discrimination.” Still, she told them, “we believe this country is large enough and the opportunities for all kinds of success are great enough to afford our women a fair chance to earn a respectable living.” In 1925, Gertrude Elise McDougald, an organizer and teacher in New York City, helped to found the Trade Union Committee for Organizing Negro Workers, in order to encourage African-American solidarity with labor and discourage strike-breaking as the pathway to work.

February 25, 2015 in Race, Work/life, Workplace | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, February 12, 2015

The Underrepresentation of Women of Color in Law Review Leadership Positions

In The Underrepresentation of Women of Color in Law Review Leadership Positions, Berkeley La Raza Law Journal (2015), A recent law grad analyzes that lack of opportunities available to women law students of color and proposes some affirmative solutions.

In the history of the UCLA Law Review, there has been only one black woman to serve as EIC (there have been no black men). This fact, combined with what I witnessed at the selection meeting, made me very concerned that the opportunities available to women of color law students were being unduly and unfairly limited. The unfortunate fact remains that in competing for law review leadership positions, women of color are significantly disadvantaged.


This Article explores the potential causes, challenges, and remedies surrounding this inequitable playing field. As Clare Dalton put it in describing the importance of investigating women’s issues in law school, “Exposing the sites of legal education and practice as important creators and sustainers of the culture of gender, as well as the culture of law, we can assert the importance of studying the treatment of women, women’s realities and women’s concerns in legal education and the legal profession.”5 The pipeline for women of color making the law review and into law review leadership positions, such as EIC, is one such site of legal education worth exposing.


Part I introduces the problem by examining the limited research that shows a significant underrepresentation of women and people of color in law review leadership positions, and explains the significance of such research. Part II explores the possible causes of this unfortunate phenomenon by uncovering the challenges that women of color face in obtaining law review leadership positions. Finally, Part III offers potential solutions for increasing opportunities for women of color in obtaining law review leadership positions.


Her proposed solutions include: creating a welcoming environment; structural remedies of diversity outreach committees, board quotas, mentorship programs, and transcripts and transparency of the board decisionmaking process.

February 12, 2015 in Education, Law schools, Race | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, January 16, 2015

When Sexism and Racism Collide

From the Atlantic:

A scuffle between a largely black sorority and a predominantly white fraternity provides an interesting case study on Title IX.

Peter Morenus/UConn Photo

At first, the kerfuffle at the University of Connecticut between a largely black sorority and a predominantly white fraternity might seem a lot like the big-kid version of a schoolyard fight. It is, after all, a dispute over an iconic boulder on campus affectionately known as the “Spirit Rock.” No one has been physically hurt, and campus officials have taken action in response to the event.

But a closer look at the quarrel likely reveals a racially charged conflict in whichwhite frat brothers, according to university investigators’ initial findings, physically intimidated the group of black women, hurling verbal insults at them, including “fat black bitch” and “whores.” It has forced university officials—administrators accustomed to treating race and gender bias as distinct problems—to grapple with a conflict that’s almost certainly shaped by some combination of both issues. What’s more, the Spirit Rock affair is unfolding at a time when public scrutiny of issues related to sexual violence and harassment on campus has reached an all-time high. Turns out that what happened at the Spirit Rock is hardly a petty matter.


January 16, 2015 in Education, Masculinities, Race | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

The Failures of the LSAT and SAT Testocracy

Lani Guiner (Harvard), Ivy League's Meritocracy Lie: How Harvard and Yale Cook the Books for the 1 Percent.  In this excerpt from Guiner's new book, she traces the elitest and anti-Jewish origins of standardize testing in law schools and discredits the alleged merit evalution of SAT and LSAT tests. Taking the "testocracy" to its ultimate result, she concludes we are admiting students based on a false sense of merit and failing to prepare students as future leaders and professionals. 

The top career choices of many male Harvard students—whether it is 2007 or 2013—are severely lacking in any element of service. This is the damage that we are doing through our testocracy. We are credentializing a new elite by legitimizing people with an inflated sense of their own merit and little unwillingness to open up to new ways of problem solving. They exude an arrogance that says there’s only one way to answer a question—because the SAT only gives credit for the one right answer.

January 13, 2015 in Education, Poverty, Race | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Beyonce 101

Slate, Why a Professor is Teaching an Entire Class About Beyonce

But to the professor Kevin Allred and 32 students at Rutgers University, Beyoncé is something more—a feminist, a gay icon, and a powerful political figure.


Allred teaches a wildly popular women’s studies course, Politicizing Beyonce: Black Feminism, US Politics, & Queen Bey.


The class is at capacity, and the room is cramped—especially because Allred encourages students to bring their friends. But that doesn’t stop them from rocking out to Beyonce’s greatest hits. 


“They usually sign up because they're big fans of Beyoncé's music, but they quickly start to make connections beyond just being fans," Allred says.


Allred, 33, says he’s been a huge fan of Beyoncé for a long time, but he didn’t think of her as a political actor until he came across an essay by Yale Professor Daphne Brooks that linked the singer to black, female disempowerment. ***


In Allred’s course, Beyonce’s music is paired with black, feminists texts, another love of his.


“That way, students are getting an education in the history of black feminist theory in the US, just using Beyoncé as the focal point,” he says. “I let them be pretty fan-oriented on the first day, but urge them for the remainder of the semester to push past that and engage academically.”

October 25, 2014 in Gender, Race | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, October 23, 2014

South Koreans Expected to be Extinct by 2075

So suggests the Korea Herald.  The fertility rate (or lack thereof) among South Koreans is owing in part to the class inequality in the country and the demands of an industrial nation-state.  

South Korea’s low birthrate is generating deep concern among policymakers. 

The government is scrambling to shore up the falling birthrate, a threat that could jeopardize Asia’s fourth-largest economy, which is saddled with a rapidly aging population. 

What many policymakers have failed to tackle is the underlying problem that forces Koreans to delay or forgo having children. 

Just ask Kim Jin-ah, a 28-year-old Seoulite who still hasn’t been “properly” employed, despite her two university degrees. 

“I don’t think marriage is an option for me right now,” said Kim, who currently works as a part-time tutor. “Having kids is just not even thinkable. I can’t even take care of myself right now. I am not sure if I deserve to be happy at this moment.”

After finishing her master’s degree in biology, Kim, at age 26, realized she didn’t want to be a scientist. She started looking for jobs ― a full-time position that would pay her enough to move out of her parents’ house and start a family of her own ― but never found one. 

During one job interview, for a marketing position at a big firm, Kim was told that she was “too old” for the company’s entry-level positions. 

Kim, who lives with her parents, is considering going back to school, or even overseas for job opportunities. She is putting off marriage until she gets a full time job. 

“If you are not working full time and want to be married, you have to have wealthy parents,” she said. “That’s just not the case for me.”


October 23, 2014 in Family, Healthcare, International, Race | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, September 11, 2014

First African-American Woman to Lead ABA

Paulette Brown to Take Reins of American Bar Association

As one of the few African-Americans in her law school class, Paulette Brown noticed career counselors steering her and other black students toward legal service or public defender jobs assisting the poor, instead of more prestigious jobs in big law firms. But she refused to go down that path, eventually serving as in-house counsel for several Fortune 500 companies.


Since those law school days, Brown, a partner in the Boston law firm Edwards Wildman Palmer LLP, has fought against subtle racism, discrimination, and small slights known as “micro-inequities.” For much of her career, she has pressed firms to hire and promote more women and minorities; mentored hundreds of lawyers, mostly women of color; and trained many others on diversity in the workplace.



In a profession where only 7 percent of partners are people of color and the number of female associates has fallen for the past five years, Brown is focused, among other things, on raising awareness about implicit bias in law offices, the legal system, and American society. 

September 11, 2014 in Race, Women lawyers | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, August 31, 2014

LAT CRIT and SALT Conference

I received a request from Prof. Charlotte Garden at Seattle to post about the upcoming Lat Crit-SALT conference, which I am happy to do.  

Twelfth Annual LatCrit-SALT
Call for ParticipationJunior Faculty Development WorkshopOctober 9, 2014University of Nevada-Las VegasLas Vegas, NV 

LatCrit, Inc. and the Society of American Law Teachers (SALT) are pleased to invite interested participants to the Twelfth Annual Junior Faculty Development Workshop (FDW), immediately preceding the SALT Teaching Conference.  This annual workshop is designed for critical, progressive, and social justice oriented pre-tenure professors, including clinicians and legal writing professors, as well as those who may be contemplating a teaching career.  However, we also encourage more senior members of the profession to attend, share their experience, and serve as resources and mentors.

The FDW is designed to familiarize critical, progressive, and social justice oriented junior faculty with LatCrit and SALT principles and values and support them in the scholarship, teaching, and service aspects of professional success.  In addition, the FDW seeks to foster scholarship in progressive, social justice, and critical outsider jurisprudence, including LatCrit theory, among new and junior faculty, students, and practitioners.  Finally, the FDW aims to cultivate a community of scholars interested in the continuation of this and similar projects over the years.

To facilitate community building through shared experiences and the exchange of ideas, we strongly encourage all participants to attend the entire workshop.

If you have questions about the workshop or would like to attend, please email  Although we will make efforts to accommodate all interested participants, RSVPs are strongly suggested by September 30, 2014. 

Registration for the SALT Biennial Teaching Conference is available at


August 31, 2014 in Call for Papers, Conferences, Poverty, Race, Theory | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Documentary on Black Women in the Ivory Tower

Living Thinkers: An Autobiography of Black Women in the Ivory Tower

LIVING THINKERS: AN AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF BLACK WOMEN IN THE IVORY TOWER examines the intersection of race, class and gender for Black women professors and administrators working in U.S. colleges and universities today. Through their diverse narratives, from girlhood to the present, Black women from different disciplines share experiences that have shaped them, including segregated schooling as children, and the trials, disappointments and triumphs encountered in Academia

August 9, 2014 in Law schools, Race | Permalink | Comments (0)