Gender and the Law Prof Blog

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

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Women Faculty Writing Groups

Inside Higher Ed, Encouraging Female Faculty to Publish Research

For professors, finding time to do research can be difficult. Especially if they are women.

 

Numerous studies have found that female professors work the same number of hours as their male counterparts, but they spend less time on research and more time on other commitments. In a 2008 study by professors at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and the University of Georgia, female participants spent an hour and a half less per week on research than their male counterparts. A big reason was that they spent an hour more on service and a half hour more on teaching.

 

The Women Faculty Writing Groups at Texas Tech University aim to combat this gender gap in research. Founded this fall, the program seeks to offer female professors a three-hour chunk of time each week to pursue writing and publishing their research without getting sidetracked by other demands, said Caroline Bishop, assistant professor of classical and modern languages at Texas Tech and a co-founder of the program.

 

“We really wanted to have a safe, protected time,” Bishop said. “A time when women can say no to other things.”

 

The overarching goal of the program is to help women prioritize research, which is often the biggest factor in promotion, said Kristin Messuri, associate director of the University Writing Center at Texas Tech and another co-founder of the program. “Women faculty tend to be promoted at lower rates than male faculty,” she said. “They go up for promotion less often. When you get into full professors, there are fewer of them.”

 

While the program’s goal is ambitious, its structure is simple. At the beginning of each three-hour session, participants discuss articles on productivity and share their progress and goals, Messuri said. The remaining two and a half hours are devoted to writing for publication.

I've done something like this over the years, though it has fallen off.  Early on we had the Momus group (we met at Cafe Momus), a mixed group (three women, two men) who bi-weekly shared rough drafts and writing problems.  It was here that I really learned how differently people write, and what works and what doesn't.  

Then for a few wonderful years we had a small group of women faculty who went to a lake house for a week retreat.  The peace and energy jump started our research each summer, and we walked away from the week with a good chunk of work begun.  (Not to mention how wonderful it was to have 4 women thoughtfully making coffee, cleaning up the kitchen, making snacks, and conversing over dinner).  The realities of life and family made it hard to keep this going, though we tried a "day" retreat for a few years meeting off campus and discussing progress over lunch.

 

July 5, 2016 in Work/life | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

On Balance: Lead by Leaving

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.

 

April 27, 2016 in Work/life | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Postpartum Taxation and the Opt Out Mom

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.

 

April 19, 2016 in Family, Work/life | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, April 4, 2016

NY Adopts Paid Family Law as of 2018

Slate, New York Just Established the Best Paid Family Leave Policy in the Country

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.

April 4, 2016 in Family, Pregnancy, Work/life | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, February 5, 2016

Admin: Proposals to Address Women's Disproportionate Burden of Administrative Labor

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.

 

February 5, 2016 in Work/life | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

"Teacher, Scholar, Mother": Motherhood in the Academy

Teacher, Scholar, Mother: Re-Envisioning Motherhood in the Academy

Table of Contents:

Section One: Approaches to Motherhood, Feminism and Gendered Work

Chapter 1:
The Role of Theory in Understanding the Lived Experiences of Mothering in the Academy
Andrea N. Hunt

Chapter 2:
Crying over “Split Milk”: How Divisive Language on Infant Feeding Leads to Stress, Confusion and Anxiety for Mothers
Tracy Rundstrom Williams

Chapter 3:
Mama’s Boy: Feminist Mothering, Masculinity, and White Privilege
Catherine A.F. MacGillivray

Chapter 4:
Encountering Others: Reading, Writing, Teaching, Parenting
Erin Tremblay Ponnou-Delaffon

Chapter 5:
A Qualitative Study of Academic Mothers’ Sabbatical Experiences: Considering Disciplinary Differences
Susan V. Iverson
Christin Seher

Chapter 6:
Motherhood: Reflection, Design, and Self-Authorship
Brook Sattler
Jennifer Turns
Cynthia J. Atman

Chapter 7:
Confessions of a Buzzkill: Critical Feminist Parenting in the Age of Omnipresent Media
Dustin Harp

Section Two: Identity and Performance in Academic Motherhood

Chapter 8:
More Mother than Others: Disorientations, Motherscholars, and Objects in Becoming
Sara M. Childers

Chapter 9:
Doing Research and Teaching on Masculinities and Violence: One Mother of Sons’ Perspective
M. Cristine Alcalde, Associate Professor of Gender & Women’s Studies

Chapter 10:
Cultural Border Crossings between Science, Science Pedagogy & Parenting
Allison Antink-Meyer

Chapter 11:
“You Must be Superwoman!”: How Graduate Student Mothers Negotiate Conflicting Roles
Erin Graybill Ellis
Jessica Smartt Gullion

Chapter 12:
“There’s a Monster Growing in our Heads”: Mad Men’s Betty Draper, Fan Reaction, and Twenty-First Century Anxiety about Motherhood
Caroline Smith
Celeste Hanna

Section Three: Bringing it to Light: Giving Voice to Motherhood’s Challenges

Chapter 13:
Silence and the Stillbirth Narrative: Stories Worth Telling
Elisabeth G. Kraus

Chapter 14:
S/m/othering
Marissa McClure

Chapter 15:
A Tapestry of Sweet Mother(hood): African Scholar, Mother, and Performer?
Ama Oforiwaa Aduonum

Chapter 16:
Dropped Stitches: Classrooms, Caregiving, and Cancer
Martha Kalnin Diede

Chapter 17:
The Other Female Complaint: Online Narratives of Assisted Reproductive Therapy as Sentimental Literature
Layne Craig

Chapter 18:
Mama’s Boy: Feminist Mothering, Masculinity, and White Privilege
Catherine A.F. MacGillivray

December 29, 2015 in Books, Education, Work/life | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

The OnRamp Fellowship Supporting Women's Reentry into Practice

The OnRamp Fellowship--A Pipeline Back Into Practice

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.

December 15, 2015 in Women lawyers, Work/life | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

UAE imprisoning rape victims under extramarital sex laws – investigation

From the Guardian UK: 

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.

October 28, 2015 in Courts, Human trafficking, International, Work/life, Workplace | Permalink | Comments (0)

No ‘Appreciable Progress’ for Women in Partnership Ranks

From Bloomberg News: 

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.

October 28, 2015 in Women lawyers, Work/life, Workplace | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, October 9, 2015

"California now has one of the toughest equal pay laws in the country"

From the LA Times: 

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.

October 9, 2015 in Work/life, Workplace | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, October 5, 2015

Gender Diversity Makes Good Business Sense

From CNBC: 

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.

October 5, 2015 in Work/life, Workplace | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Forcing Pregnant Students Out of Grad School

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.

October 1, 2015 in Reproductive Rights, Work/life | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

"Gender Bias at Work Turns Up in Feedback"

From the WSJ blog: 

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.

September 30, 2015 in Work/life, Workplace | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, September 25, 2015

"Law Firms Are Learning: Work-Life Balance Isn't Just for Moms"

From the Atlantic:

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.

And: 

“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.

September 25, 2015 in Manliness, Masculinities, Work/life, Workplace | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

"Rush for gender equality with top judges 'could have appalling consequences for justice'"

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.

September 23, 2015 in Women lawyers, Work/life, Workplace | Permalink | Comments (0)

"The Legal Profession’s Gender Imbalance in a Chart"

From Bloomberg Law Business: 

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.

Gabe Friedman

Gabe Friedman/Source: National Lawyer Population Survey, American Bar Association.

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

Gabe Friedman/Source: National Association of Women Lawyers, ABA’s National Lawyer Population Survey

September 23, 2015 in Women lawyers, Work/life, Workplace | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, September 21, 2015

"Gov. Brown expected to sign expanded fair pay legislation"

From the OC Register: 

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.

September 21, 2015 in Work/life, Workplace | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, September 18, 2015

"Gender Bias Suit Will Soon Shine a Harsh Light on Microsoft"

From Wired

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.

September 18, 2015 in Technology, Work/life, Workplace | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Embedded image permalink

From the Guardian UK: 

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.

September 15, 2015 in Technology, Women lawyers, Work/life, Workplace | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

"Big Law’s Race and Gender Problem"

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.

September 9, 2015 in Work/life, Workplace | Permalink | Comments (0)