Wednesday, April 27, 2016
Paula Schaefer (Tennessee), On Balance: Lead by Leaving, Tennessee L.Rev. (forthcoming)
Abstract:Even though women make up half of law school classes in the U.S., hold half of elite judicial clerkships, and accept almost half of the jobs in large U.S. law firms, only a small number of women make partner or serve in leadership roles in those firms. Much has been written about the things that stand in the way of gender equality in elite law firms. Yet misconceptions persist about why the time demands of “big law” have a disproportionate impact on women.
This Article points to evidence that is contrary to those misconceptions and argues that the women – and men – who leave large law firms in search of balance are exhibiting leadership. Contrary to Sheryl Sandberg’s advice that they should “lean in” if they hope to lead, these former big law attorneys are leading by leaving.
Following an Introduction, Part II looks at the numbers of women in the pipeline from law school to elite law firms, and how the numbers drop off precipitously before women achieve partnership and take on leadership positions. Next, Part III considers and refutes two common misconceptions about why women have not succeeded in big law: that women lack ambition and that women cannot shoulder the dual demands of practicing law and being a primary caregiver. The reality is that these women are ambitious and that both women and men leave elite firms for similar reasons. They are often seeking better balance in their professional and personal lives. The topic of balance is the focus of Part IV, which makes the argument that lawyers who are leaving large law firms in search of work-life balance are exhibiting leadership. Turning to the topic of this symposium, Part V concludes with some suggestions about how law school leadership education could address issues of work-life balance and gender disparities in the profession. Rather than framing these as women’s issues, this Part suggests the benefits of presenting these as issues that men and women should consider as they make a plan for their professional and personal lives.
Tuesday, April 19, 2016
Shannon Weeks McCormack (Washington), Postpartum Taxation: The Internal Revenue Code and the Opt Out, Georgetown L.J. (forthcoming.
Abstract:Legislation seeking to ensure that women receive equal pay for equal work has been on the books for decades. Nevertheless, the average American woman still receives less than eighty cents for every dollar earned by the average American man. Happily, the gender pay gap between men and childless women is narrowing over time. Meanwhile, the gap between mothers and others continues to widen. Career interruptions contribute significantly to this disturbing trend — nearly half of mothers opt out of the workforce at some point in their lives, most often to care for young children. Faced with too-short (or non-existent) maternity leaves, inflexible work schedules and the soaring costs of childcare in the United States, this opt out phenomenon is hardly surprising. But with the decision to opt out comes grave cost. Over 90% of opt out moms want to return to the workforce several years after off ramping. Unfortunately, many discover that they are unable to do so. A mother that does manage to reenter the workforce will find that even a short off ramp results in a sizeable and disproportionate reduction in her annual earnings that will persist for every year of her remaining life.
Given this dismal reality, experts that study the biases faced by women in the workplace encourage mothers who want to maintain careers to resist opting out during their children’s preschool years (and to incur the many high costs of doing so) in order to protect their most valuable economic asset — their lifelong earning capacity. Surprisingly, these insights are under- (if not completely un-) utilized in tax scholarship considering the taxation of women and the family. Incorporating these critical insights, this Article shows that the tax laws are already well suited to provide new mothers the encouragement urged by so many non-tax scholars. This Article first proposes several reforms to ensure the postpartum earnings of new mothers are not over-taxed. It then discusses existing mechanisms used by the tax laws to encourage long-term investment and identifies two mechanisms that could be easily fashioned to help new mothers remain in the very imperfect workforce that exists today.
Monday, April 4, 2016
All workers in New York state will soon be eligible for a guaranteed 12 weeks of paid family leave, one of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s legislative priorities, which passed Thursday in a long-debated budget agreement.
Beginning in 2018, all full- and part-time employees who’ve been working at their jobs for at least six months will have access to up to eight weeks of leave at half their salaries. The policy, which will be funded by employees through payroll deductions, will gradually phase up over four years to 12 weeks and a maximum of two-thirds of the state’s average wage. It also guarantees job protection for all workers who take leave, even those who work for businesses with fewer than 50 employees, which are not subject to the federal Family and Medical Leave Act.
With this new policy, New York joins California, New Jersey, and Rhode Island on the elite list of U.S. states that offer guaranteed paid leave to hang out with a new baby, bond with an adopted or foster child, or care for a sick family member. Rhode Island offers four weeks of partial pay and New Jersey and California offer six, placing New York far ahead of the pack, though it still trails most other countries in the world when it comes to maternity leave.
Friday, February 5, 2016
Elizabeth Emens (Columbia), Admin, 103 Georgetown L.J. (2015)
Abstract:This Article concerns a relatively unseen form of labor that affects us all, but that disproportionately burdens women: admin. Admin is the office type work — both managerial and secretarial — that it takes to run a life or a household. Examples include completing paperwork, making grocery lists, coordinating schedules, mailing packages, and handling medical and benefits matters.
Both equity and efficiency are at stake here. Admin raises distributional concerns about those people — often women — who do more than their share of this work on behalf of others. Even when different-sex partners who both work outside the home aspire to equal distribution of household labor, it appears that the family’s admin is more often done by women. Appreciating the unequal distribution of this work helps us to see the costs of admin for everyone. These broader costs include wasted time, lost focus, and interpersonal tension. Though the types of admin demands that people face vary by gender, class, age, and culture, admin touches everyone.
The Article makes this form of labor more salient, both analytically, through an account of its features and costs, and practically, through proposals for public and private interventions. Admin is “sticky.” It frequently stays where it lands, whether with female partners of men, one member of a same-sex couple, an extended family member managing another’s affairs, or parents of some adult children of the so-called millennial generation. By demanding time and attention, admin impinges on leisure, sleep, relationships, and work.
Admin warrants a range of possible regulatory responses. Government should create less admin and possibly do more kinds of admin for people. Regulatory infrastructure should protect people’s time and spur technological innovations that reduce admin. Courts should allow parties in civil suits to claim damages for lost personal time. These and other initiatives should help to make admin more salient as a legal and cultural matter and to reduce its burdens overall. Reducing admin should benefit everyone and, in turn, disproportionately benefit those who bear its greatest burdens.
Tuesday, December 29, 2015
Table of Contents:
Section One: Approaches to Motherhood, Feminism and Gendered Work
The Role of Theory in Understanding the Lived Experiences of Mothering in the Academy
Andrea N. Hunt
Crying over “Split Milk”: How Divisive Language on Infant Feeding Leads to Stress, Confusion and Anxiety for Mothers
Tracy Rundstrom Williams
Mama’s Boy: Feminist Mothering, Masculinity, and White Privilege
Catherine A.F. MacGillivray
Encountering Others: Reading, Writing, Teaching, Parenting
Erin Tremblay Ponnou-Delaffon
A Qualitative Study of Academic Mothers’ Sabbatical Experiences: Considering Disciplinary Differences
Susan V. Iverson
Motherhood: Reflection, Design, and Self-Authorship
Cynthia J. Atman
Confessions of a Buzzkill: Critical Feminist Parenting in the Age of Omnipresent Media
Section Two: Identity and Performance in Academic Motherhood
More Mother than Others: Disorientations, Motherscholars, and Objects in Becoming
Sara M. Childers
Doing Research and Teaching on Masculinities and Violence: One Mother of Sons’ Perspective
M. Cristine Alcalde, Associate Professor of Gender & Women’s Studies
Cultural Border Crossings between Science, Science Pedagogy & Parenting
“You Must be Superwoman!”: How Graduate Student Mothers Negotiate Conflicting Roles
Erin Graybill Ellis
Jessica Smartt Gullion
“There’s a Monster Growing in our Heads”: Mad Men’s Betty Draper, Fan Reaction, and Twenty-First Century Anxiety about Motherhood
Section Three: Bringing it to Light: Giving Voice to Motherhood’s Challenges
Silence and the Stillbirth Narrative: Stories Worth Telling
Elisabeth G. Kraus
A Tapestry of Sweet Mother(hood): African Scholar, Mother, and Performer?
Ama Oforiwaa Aduonum
Dropped Stitches: Classrooms, Caregiving, and Cancer
Martha Kalnin Diede
The Other Female Complaint: Online Narratives of Assisted Reproductive Therapy as Sentimental Literature
Mama’s Boy: Feminist Mothering, Masculinity, and White Privilege
Catherine A.F. MacGillivray
Tuesday, December 15, 2015
According to a 2010 study by the Center for Work-Life Policy, nearly 75 percent of women attempting to return to the workforce after voluntarily leaving have difficulty finding a job. What’s a talented, driven, hard-working woman to do? Enter the OnRamp Fellowship program, an “experiential re-entry platform” designed to help women lawyers return to the workforce. The program, which began in 2014, is the brainchild of Caren Ulrich Stacy, who spent 20 years inside law firms recruiting talent. She says during those years, she saw hundreds of resumes from qualified women who were attempting to re-enter the profession after leaving, usually to raise families. Some of those gaps were a few years; some were a decade or more. And the gaps made those women seem risky to firms.
While Caren understood the hesitancy of firms to take on lawyers who had been out of the workforce, she felt they were missing out on women who could become top performers and leaders. So she designed the OnRamp Fellowship to given women a pipeline back into the profession. Fellowship applicants are thoroughly vetted by Caren, whose experience and insight helps her select women who will be a good “fit” for each position. Those women are then given the opportunity to interview with some of the top firms in the country for practice groups with open positions or groups expected to experience future growth. Fellows are hired by participating firms for six-month or one-year terms and are paid through those firms. There is no guarantee of employment at the end of their fellowship year, though the hope is that the fellows will obtain full-time employment, either through their fellowship firm or elsewhere. And that’s been the case for most fellows.
Wednesday, October 28, 2015
Hundreds of women, some of them pregnant or domestic servants who are victims of rape, are being imprisoned in the United Arab Emirates every year under laws that outlaw consensual sex outside marriage, according to a BBC Arabic investigation.
Secret footage obtained by BBC Arabic show pregnant women shackled in chains walking into a courtrooms where laws prohibiting “Zina” – or sex outside marriage – could mean sentences of months to years in prison and flogging.
“Because the UAE authorities have not clarified what they mean by indecency, the judges can use their culture and customs and Sharia ultimately to broaden out that definition and convict people for illicit sexual relations or even acts of public affection,” said Rothna Begum, women’s rights researcher at Human Rights Watch in London.
While both men and women could in theory be imprisoned for having sex outside marriage, the investigation – which will air at the opening of BBC Arabic festival on 31 October – found that in reality pregnancy is often used as proof of the “crime”, with domestic female migrant workers – numbering about 150,000 in the UAE – left most vulnerable.
It's back to the future — and not in a good way for women seeking equity partnership in the nation’s 200 largest law firms.
Women have not made “appreciable progress” since 2006 in either attaining equity partnership or increasing their pay to be on par with their male colleagues once they grasp the brass ring, according to a study by the National Association of Women Lawyers released on Tuesday.
The results: Women represent 18 percent of equity partners, an increase of two percent since 2006, according to NAWL’s findings. Even after they’ve made it into the equity ranks, they make about 80 percent of what their male colleagues bring home. In 2006, women had made 84 percent.
Friday, October 9, 2015
California took a major step Tuesday toward closing the lingering wage gap between men and women, as Gov. Jerry Brown signed one of the toughest pay equity laws in the nation.
Women in California who work full time are paid substantially less — a median 84 cents for every dollar — than men, according to a U.S Census Bureau report this year.
“The inequities that have plagued our state and have burdened women forever are slowly being resolved with this kind of bill,” Brown said at a ceremony at Rosie the Riveter National Historical Park in the Bay Area city of Richmond.
Monday, October 5, 2015
Firstly, to hire women at junior levels and invest in them only to lose them before they can take on the senior roles is a poor outcome business-wise, returns-wise and image-wise.
Secondly, women are increasingly becoming the decision-making consumer. Not having a proper representation of women at senior levels would mean firms are losing out on an opportunity to have leaders who have a better understanding of the needs and psyche of their target consumers. That is a bad business decision.
Thirdly, women will increasingly be the decision-maker and enterprise-buyer on the corporate side as well. Not having top leaders who can easily relate to the situation of senior female executives across the table can have adverse consequences.
Thursday, October 1, 2015
Joan Williams and Jessica Lee, It's Illegal, Yet It Happens All the Time, Chronicle of Higher Ed.
Why don’t we have more women in STEM fields? One reason is that students get hounded out of their college or graduate-school programs when they become pregnant. It’s against federal law, but it happens all the time.
One student told us she had a pregnancy-related disability that required her to go to the hospital at least twice a week. Exhausted but driven, she continued to produce quality work. Late in her pregnancy, the publishing deadline she was struggling to meet was accelerated by her department — it now fell right after her due date. Just months prior she had been celebrated as a rising star in her department, but now, she said, "I had to prove I was still worthy to even be in their program." If she didn’t meet the new deadline, she would lose the funding her family relied upon. After her baby was born, she was intimidated into finishing her degree in significantly less time than the average student in her department. The hostility and bias the student faced "traumatized me in so many ways," she said. "I wasn’t asking for accommodations, I wanted to be treated like everybody else, but I was the one who was punished."
A graduate student with a disability caused by childbirth was pursuing her degree full force after a lengthy struggle, only to be told by a faculty mentor, "You don’t have a disability, you just need to go home and be with your baby." Professors frequently make off-the-cuff statements — often written off as harmless — telling pregnant women or new mothers to stay home instead of pursuing their education. Plaintiffs’ lawyers love such direct evidence of gender discrimination.
And it’s not just professors who open their institutions to legal liability. Administrators do, too. A graduate student said she anticipated the birth of her child at the start of the academic year, so she asked to be able to record classes for the first week or two of the semester. The student-affairs dean told the student to withdraw for at least a semester, with no guarantee of readmission, informing her that all of the pregnant students at the institution in the past six years withdrew from the program — except one, who regretted her decision. This student, like many others, didn’t want to take leave at all.
The consequences of being forced out of your program can be grim. Many women need to keep working in their university-sponsored jobs to make ends meet. Yet those jobs are often unavailable to students while they are on leave, or aren’t offered back to them upon their return. On many campuses, being on leave or withdrawn status means losing that income, along with health insurance, loan deferment status, and even your university email address. Sometimes it means losing your housing, too.
Federal law requires that pregnant students must be reinstated following leave to their prior status, without penalty. Yet we hear over and over about women are penalized for their absence, or forced to reapply to their programs as if they had never been accepted.
Wednesday, September 30, 2015
If companies are looking for gender bias in their workplace, here’s one place they may want to start: feedback.
Research suggests that men and women are assessed very differently at work. Specifically, managers are significantly more likely to critique female employees for coming on too strong, and their accomplishments are more likely than men’s to be seen as the result of team, rather than individual efforts, finds new research from Stanford University’s Clayman Institute for Gender Research. Those trends appear to hold up whether the boss making the assessments is male or female.
Friday, September 25, 2015
For decades, work-life balance at law firms has been a women’s issue—something for working moms to sort out. But there are a growing number of new firms built on flexible schedules that are now attracting men, and slowly shifting the definition of a successful legal career. Though the partner office is still the prototypical legal-career status symbol, the prerequisites of long hours and 24-7 availability are inconsistent with the emphasis many men put on time away from the office.
“Young men today have different values, different aspirations than their fathers,” says Stewart Friedman, a Wharton Practice professor of management and director of the Wharton Work/Life Integration Project. “They want to be available both psychologically and physically for children.” At some of the most competitive white-collar workplaces, such as Netflix and Microsoft, these shifts have led to expanded parental-leave policies.
Wednesday, September 23, 2015
A view from Britain from the Evening Standard (UK):
One of the country’s most senior judges today warned that rushing to achieve equal representation for women at the top of the legal profession could inflict “appalling consequences” on the quality of British justice.
Lord Sumption, a Supreme Court judge, said he believed that the judiciary was a “terrific public asset” which could be “destroyed very easily” if the selection of candidates was skewed in favour of women.
He added that to avoid inflicting damage, campaigners for equality would have to be “patient” and suggested that it would need up to 50 years before the number of women on the Bench matched the total of men.
The American Bar Foundation has released new data about gender balance in the profession, or more accurately, the lack thereof.
Clearly, more women are entering the law as shown in the chart below.
But even though the number of women entering the law has been steadily increasing in recent years, the percentage of women equity partners at the top 200 law firms has been flat for close to a decade, as the chart below shows:
Gabe Friedman/Source: National Association of Women Lawyers, ABA’s National Lawyer Population Survey
Monday, September 21, 2015
SAN FRANCISCO – Female employees in California are poised to get new tools to challenge gender-based wage gaps and receive protection from discrimination and retaliation if they ask questions about how much other people earn.
A bill recently passed by the Legislature and that Gov. Jerry Brown has indicated he will sign won’t suddenly put all women’s salaries on par with men’s or prod employers to freely disclose what every employee makes, which could make it easier for workers to mount pay discrimination claims.
But the legislation expands what supporters call an outdated state equal pay law and goes further than federal law, placing the burden on the employer to prove a man’s higher pay is based on factors other than gender and allowing workers to sue if they are paid less than someone with a different job title who does “substantially similar” work.
Friday, September 18, 2015
MICROSOFT FACES A class action lawsuit from former employee and noted computer security researcher Katie Moussouris. The suit claims that during Moussouris’s seven years at Microsoft, she and other women were unfairly discriminated against on the basis of their gender, passed over for raises and promotions, and ranked below their male counterparts during bi-annual performance reviews.
Moussouris was instrumental in prompting Microsoft to launch its first bug bounty program in 2013, something the company resisted for years. The program pays researchers who find security vulnerabilities in its software. After resigning from Microsoft in May, Moussouris took a job as chief policy officer at HackerOne, which helps companies manage bug bounty programs and communicate with security researchers.
Tuesday, September 15, 2015
The barrister at the centre of a sexism furore over a complimentary LinkedIn message from a solicitor 30 years her senior has said she is facing a professional backlash over her decision to speak out.
Writing for the Independent, the human rights lawyer Charlotte Proudman said she did not regret her decision to make public a message from Alexander Carter-Silk that commented on her “stunning” photograph, because it had led to an outpouring of similar experiences from other women.
Proudman said she had named Carter-Silk because she believed the public interest in exposing the “eroticisation of women’s physical appearance” by an influential and senior lawyer was greater than his right to privacy.
Wednesday, September 9, 2015
Videoed interviews with Big Law partners are available from Bloomberg News. An excerpt:
“The fact of the matter is, that in the legal profession, racial and gender balance is just behind,” said Jami McKeon, Chair of Morgan, Lewis & Bockius. McKeon and Michele Coleman Mayes, the New York Public Library’s General Counsel, spoke to us at the Big Law Business Summit in July about racial and gender imbalance in big law.
Monday, September 7, 2015
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.