Gender and the Law Prof Blog

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

Friday, July 31, 2015

"Millennial Men Aren’t the Dads They Thought They’d Be"

From the NYT Upshot: 

Young men today have aspirations of being hands-on fathers as well as breadwinners — supportive husbands who also do dishes.

But as they enter that more responsibility-filled stage of life, something changes: Their roles often become much more traditional.

Millennial men — ages 18 to early 30s — have much more egalitarian attitudes about family, career and gender roles inside marriage than generations before them, according to a variety of research by social scientists. Yet they struggle to achieve their goals once they start families, researchers say. Some researchers think that’s because workplace policies have not caught up to changing expectations at home.

July 31, 2015 in Family, Manliness, Masculinities | Permalink | Comments (0)

"Law Society reveals 42 per cent gender pay gap among members"

From Scotland:  

New research by the Law Society of Scotland shows a 42 per cent gender pay gap among its members, the lawyers’ body has revealed.

The figure was reached by comparing average full-time and full-time equivalent (for part time/flexible hours employees) salaries for women and men at all career stages.

And: 

Janet Hood, convenor of the Law Society’s equality and diversity committee said the gap “reflects very badly on what is otherwise a modern and forward-thinking profession”.

She added: “There are many and nuanced reasons why the gender pay gap exists, and the legal profession is certainly not alone – figures from November 2014 show that the overall UK gap was 9.4 percent.

“However we have seen little change in the past decade compared to other professions such as accountancy or dentistry and it is a major concern that such a substantial gap persists 45 years after the UK Equal Pay Act and 10 years of Law Society equality research and promoting good practice within the legal profession.”

Ms Hood said the issue could not be ignored “for either ethical or business reasons” and there should be “no limit” set on the talent and ambition of women in the sector.

The referenced report by the Law Society of Scotland is available here.  

July 31, 2015 in International, Women lawyers, Work/life, Workplace | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Bill Cosby's Accusers, 35 of them, anyway.....

Fathers Discriminated by Citizenship Law

Unfortunate that I had missed this story earlier this month: 

A U.S. law that treats mothers and fathers differently in determining whether their foreign-born children may claim U.S. citizenship is unconstitutional, a federal appeals court ruled on Wednesday, four years after the U.S. Supreme Court split 4-4 on the issue.

The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York said the statute applied "impermissible stereotyping" in imposing a tougher burden on fathers.

The law requires unwed fathers who are U.S. citizens to spend at least five years living in the United States - a 2012 amendment reduced it from 10 years - before they can confer citizenship onto a child born abroad, out of wedlock and to a partner who is not a U.S. citizen. For unwed U.S. mothers in the same situation, the requirement is only one year.

Wednesday's ruling is likely to have a limited effect in terms of the number of people it applies to, but the decision addresses important principles regarding ‎laws that explicitly treat the sexes differently, legal advocates said.

**the story continues here.  

July 29, 2015 in Family, International, Manliness, Masculinities | Permalink | Comments (0)

"A Quiet Triumph for Gay Workers"

So reads the headline from an Atlantic article.   The contents thereof read:  

Gay Americans can now get married in the morning and then, in the afternoon, just for being gay, their employers can fire them. Is doing so legal? Up until last week, the answer was yes for Americans living in the 28 states without explicit bans on workplace sexual-orientation discrimination. But an important rulingfrom the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) means that courts in those states are now more likely to say that such discrimination is illegal, and that gay Americans are already protected from such discrimination under existing law.

Related articles include:  

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/volokh-conspiracy/wp/2015/07/16/anti-gay-discrimination-is-sex-discrimination-says-the-eeoc

http://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/community/gay-south-florida/article27469123.html

July 29, 2015 in LGBT, Work/life, Workplace | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Year of the Female Law Dean

National Jurist, Year of the Female Dean

Call it the year of the women dean. Eleven of the nation’s 28 new deans this summer are female, an unprecedented number. It brings the total number of female deans at the nation’s ABA-accredited law schools to 59, or about 30 percent, which is an increase of 21 percent from 2008.

 

While the number still pales in comparison to the number of female J.D. students, which is 47 percent, the dean numbers are inching closer to the percent of female full-time law faculty, which is 34 percent.

July 28, 2015 in Law schools, Women lawyers | Permalink | Comments (0)

Almost...The First Female Supreme Court Justice in Afghanistan

Historic Bid To Become Afghanistan's First Female Justice Falls 9 Votes Short

The day is still etched in the Afghan judge’s mind more than a decade later — when she was in Washington, when she met with Supreme Court justices Sandra Day O’Connor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg. She recalls feeling awed and barely present, her thoughts instead flittering back to her country.

 

“I was asking myself whether we would ever have a similar situation in Afghanistan,“ said Anisa Rasooli, “where a woman judge would become a member of the Supreme Court.”

 

Last month, Rasooli came close — only to be let down by other women.

 

Afghanistan’s U.S.-educated president, Ashraf Ghani, had nominated Rasooli to become the country’s first female Supreme Court justice, carrying out an election promise. It was a landmark choice in a country where only 14 years ago, the Taliban Islamist regime bannedwomen from work, education and other parts of public life. They were forbidden from even leaving their homeswithout a male relative and a head-to-toe burqa.

 

Activists here and abroad were ecstatic. A woman on the bench of the country’s highest court could be an antidote to a growing concern: the erosion of gains in women’s rights as the Western military and aid footprint shrinks.

 

But then Afghanistan’s conservative establishment asserted itself. Influential Islamic clerics, as well as some male lawmakers, declared that a woman was not fit to try serious criminal cases. Their protests illustrated a continuing struggle pitting age-old traditions and customs against efforts to shape Afghanistan into a modern society.

 

Still, there were 69 female members in the Afghan parliament, which had to ratify Rasooli’s appointment, providing good odds for her to make history. But when the body met to vote this month, 23 female lawmakers were absent. Of 184 lawmakers present, 88 voted for her in the secret ballot — nine too few.

July 28, 2015 in International, Judges | Permalink | Comments (0)

Second Parent Adoption Goes Through--After 25 Years

In case you needed a reminder about the power of law to individuals' lives, here's the story of my colleague after Obergefell.

New Franklin Woman Now Has Two Moms; Supreme Court Gay Marriage Decision Also Allows Adoptions

Nancy Reeves acknowledged there aren’t many “tangible benefits” to adoption at this point, but it’s not any less meaningful.

 

“We have always been a family. We have always known it, and everyone who matters to us on a personal level has always treated us as a family,” she said.

 

“That said, when society tells you that you’re not a real family, when ‘family values’ expressly devalues your family, it is almost indescribable to finally have our 34-year marriage, and Lynn’s 25-year relationship with Emma legally recognized. It is as if a weight I didn’t even know I was carrying has been lifted off my shoulders,” Reeves said.

July 28, 2015 in Family, Same-sex marriage | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, July 27, 2015

Obama criticizes Kenya on gay rights

President Obama is presently traveling through Africa.  Recently, he gave a speech in Kenya condemning the nation's refusal to protect the rights of its gay citizens.  From the NYT: 

NAIROBI, Kenya—Widespread celebration of President Barack Obama’s visit to a country teeming with national pride over an American leader considered a local son was briefly overshadowed Saturday by a public disagreement with his Kenyan counterpart over gay rights.

In an awkward moment of tension, Mr. Obama condemned Kenya’s treatment of gays and lesbians as “wrong—full stop” while standing alongside Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta during a joint news conference.

The president, whose personal story has deep resonance in Kenya, even used himself as an example of why discrimination on the basis of gender, race or sexual orientation should be illegal.

“As an African American in the United States I am painfully aware of what happens when people are treated differently under the law,” said Mr. Obama, whose father was born and raised in Kenya.

To no avail......

But none of it swayed Mr. Kenyatta, who responded by saying his country does not share the U.S. president’s view.

“For Kenyans today the issue of gay rights is really a non-issue,” Mr. Kenyatta said, stressing matter-of-factly that economic and security concerns are of higher concern.

July 27, 2015 in International, LGBT | Permalink | Comments (0)

"For Transgender Americans, Legal Battles Over Restrooms"

An editorial from the NYT: 

Gavin Grimm sat quietly in the audience last November as dozens of parents at a school board meeting in Gloucester County, Va., demanded that he be barred from using the boys’ restrooms at school. They discussed the transgender boy’s genitals, expressed concern that he might expose himself and cautioned that being in a men’s room would make the teenager vulnerable to rape. One person called him a “freak.”

When Gavin, 16, got his turn at the podium, he was remarkably composed. “I didn’t ask to be this way,” Gavin said. “All I want to do is be a normal child and use the restroom in peace.”

And: 

On Monday, Judge Robert Doumar of Federal District Court in Virginia is scheduled to consider whether the school board’s decision to prohibit Gavin from using the male restroom is unlawful discrimination. The case addresses one of the main unresolved battles in the fight for transgender equality.

A favorable decision for the student would be the first time a federal court has ruled that refusing transgender students access to proper restrooms is discriminatory. Any other outcome would reinforce cruel policies that deny dignity to some of the most vulnerable students and subject them to more bullying and stigmatization.

July 27, 2015 in Legislation, LGBT | Permalink | Comments (0)

"Paid Leave This Week: Everywhere Is Better Than Here"

The headline is from a New Republic article, whose contents read in part:  

Young women have no illusions about how hard it is to be a working mother in America. The New York Times highlights recent evidence that millenial women are less likely than prior generations to expect careers equal to their husbands. 

The rest of the world continues to treat mothers better: India’s high court ruled that mothers who use surrogates are entitled to maternity leave. Meanwhile, Ireland’s government is considering extending its paid parental leave policy from six months to one year, which can be shared by both parents.

IBM introduces Uber for breast milk: Nursing mothers who work for IBM will now be able to use an app to ship their breast milk back home while travelling for business.

Day care can now cost more than college tuition. Working parents can expect to pay an average of $11,000 a year for a spot at an infant day care center ($16,549 if you’re unlucky enough to live in Massachusetts), more than average tuition at a four-year public college.   

The art of inequality: An art gallery in New York is exhibiting a mural-sized infographic by Portugese painter Rigo 23 depicting the last eight countries on earth without mandated paid maternity leave—the U.S. is right in between Tonga and Nauru.

July 27, 2015 in Family, Work/life, Workplace | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Upcoming Big Screen Movies on Women and the Law

Suffragette - on the British women's suffrage movement starring Meryl Streep, Carey Mulligan, and Helena Bonham Carter 

She's Beautiful When She's Angry - on the second-wave US feminist movement

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg Biopic

Ms., Lilly Ledbetter's Fight for Equal Pay is Coming to the Big Screen

 

 

July 25, 2015 in Legal History, Media | Permalink | Comments (0)

Equality Act Introduced in Congress

Huff Post, The Equality Act is a Visionary Piece of Legislation--And Way Overdue

Something extraordinary happened Thursday to advance fairness and equality in the United States. Members of Congress introduced legislation to amend the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964 to embrace a more robust vision of equality.

 

The bill -- aptly named the Equality Act -- would amend existing law to explicitly prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity and expand protections against discrimination for women. The bill would also extend the reach of protections against discrimination by businesses and stop the use of religion to discriminate. It's historic -- and it may also be a surprise because many people think such discrimination is already illegal

Slate,"The Equality Act": Democrats Push Bill Banning LGBT Discrimination

The Equality Act Could End Legal LGBT Discrimination for Good

Sweeping LGBT Rights Bill to be Introduced this Week

July 25, 2015 in Legislation, LGBT | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, July 24, 2015

Exaggeration as manly trope

A recent study at the U of Washington confirms what every guy knows: men exaggerate about how great they are.  All men do this, I suspect, to varying degree.  

If a man feels like his masculinity is being questioned he is more likely to lie about his physical and mental traits.

Researchers have found that men will overcompensate by lying about their height, how athletic or they are and how many relationships they have had in order live up to the male stereotype.

In contrast, men who don’t feel threatened are more honest when quizzed about their physical appearance or past.

And:

Male students at Stanford University were told they were participating in research on how exertion impacts decision-making and were asked to squeeze a handheld device with each hand.

Researchers marked their scores on sheets that showed fake results, representing 'typical' male and female results.

Participants were scored either in the middle of the female or the male curve, suggesting that their grip was either weak or average.

They were then asked to fill out a questionnaire asking about their height, number of previous relationships, various personality traits and their interest in products that skewed male or female, along with 'distracter questions' about things such as their college major.

Associate Professor Cheryan said the consistent exaggeration about height among the group who thought they scored lower was particularly surprising.

'Height is something you think would be fixed, but how tall you say you are is malleable, at least for men,' she said.

The findings, researchers said, underscore the pressure men feel to live up to gender stereotypes and the ways in which they might reinstate a threatened masculinity. 

July 24, 2015 in Manliness, Masculinities | Permalink | Comments (0)

Editorial on the Boy Scouts of America and Gay Rights

Boy Scouts marching in Seattle Pride Parade

From the LA Times, an interesting comparison with the much more open policy of the Girl Scouts.  

The Boy Scouts of America didn't go as far as it ought to have with its new recommendation on gay Scout leaders, but it did make reluctant headway. This wasn't the leap of an organization that now views sexual orientation with more tolerant eyes, but rather a shuffling step by a tradition-bound group that has been prodded by dramatic changes in societal views of sexual orientation, as well as the financial realities of needing to woo back corporate donors such as Walt Disney Co. that are reluctant to sponsor an organization that discriminates against gay people.

The resolution approved last week by the Scouts' national executive committee puts an end to the organization's official ban on gay Scout leaders and volunteers. But rather than banning such discrimination entirely, it leaves the decision up to individual troops and units. (The new policy is expected to be ratified by the executive board July 27.) Some of those troops already have shown interest in welcoming all interested and qualified adults, regardless of sexual orientation; many others are expected to keep a ban in place.

Compare that with the way the Girl Scouts recently made news: A Scouting council in western Washington rejected a $100,000 donation that came with the stipulation that it not be used to support transgender Scouts. That's in line with the organization's history. The Girl Scouts also became racially integrated much earlier than the Boy Scouts, and had little problem accepting atheist members.

July 24, 2015 in LGBT, Manliness, Masculinities | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Closing Abortion Clinics on Grounds of Protecting Women's Health

Linda Greenhouse (NYT/Yale) and Reva Siegel (Yale), Casey and the Clinic Closings: When "Protecting Health" is an Undue Burden, Yale L. J (forthcoming).

Abstract:      

We seek in this article to understand how the Supreme Court's abortion jurisprudence addresses laws that invoke, not potential life, but women's health as a reason to single out abortion for burdensome regulation that closes clinics. We approach this project with a sense of urgency. The current wave of health-justified restrictions — prominently including laws that require abortion providers to secure admitting privileges at nearby hospitals or to become the functional equivalents of hospitals themselves — is destroying the clinic infrastructure on which women depend in order to exercise their constitutional right to terminate a pregnancy. 

There is now a sharp circuit conflict over how judges are to evaluate the states' claims that admitting privilege laws protect women's health. Some circuits read Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey and the Court’s subsequent decision in Gonzales v. Carhart to require courts to examine whether health-justified regulations actually and effectively serve health-related ends. Others construe the cases to require judicial deference to the states' claims. We argue that Casey/Carhart require judicial scrutiny of health-justified regulations to ensure these regulations do not obstruct abortion by unconstitutional means.

The analysis of health-justified restrictions we offer rests on an understanding of Casey's undue burden standard — reaffirmed in Carhart — as the product of a compromise over Roe v. Wade. While prohibiting states from banning abortion before fetal viability, Casey allowed government to express a preference for childbirth throughout a woman's pregnancy by trying to persuade her, through a 24-hour waiting period and the provision of information, to forego abortion. Persuasion is the heart of the Casey compromise: government may protect potential life, but not in ways that obstruct women from acting on their constitutionally protected choice.

Regulations that close clinics in the name of women's health, but without health-related justification, do not persuade; they prevent. In so doing, they violate the constitutional principle at the core of the Casey compromise: that government express respect for the dignity of human life by means that respect the dignity of women.

July 23, 2015 in Abortion, Healthcare | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

"White Male Bluster"

GOP's toxic white male bluster: Trump, Cruz and Christie bully to overcompensate

So reads the Salon headline for an article that assesses the public rhetoric by GOP presidential candidates.  

Chris Christie roared onto the presidential campaign stage calling out his onetime pal, President Obama, for being “weak.” He labeled the economy as “weak,” U.S. foreign policy as “weak,” and the president’s style of governance as a “handwringing” incompetence. Christie’s theme is not just his, though; it seems to dominate the Republican candidates’ critique of any Democratic leader whose approach to the larger world refrains from their over-the-top bluster. The real question, though, is what makes the Republicans think theirs is the party of strength? What lies behind their in-your-face, Clint Eastwood-style American bravado?

July 22, 2015 in Manliness, Masculinities, Media | Permalink | Comments (0)

Hillary Clinton and the Gender Card

Hillary Clinton was asked during an interview to respond to Mitch McConnell's charge that she plays the "gender card."  Her response was apt, it seemed to me: 

Clinton’s response — a riposte that the gender card is being played “every time Republicans vote against giving women equal pay, deny families access to affordable child care or family leave, refuse to let women make decisions about their health or have access to free contraception” — was a forthright appeal for women’s votes — and the latest signal that, yes, Clinton’s gender will be front and center in her campaign this time around.

And: 

Eight years ago, her first presidential campaign downplayed any focus on running as a woman. But Democrats say gender is not only a plus this time, but also crucial to Clinton’s strategy for winning a general election where she will need to boost the turnout of female voters, who are more likely to vote Democratic.

The campaign followed up on on the Facebook chat Tuesday, releasing a slick video replaying McConnell’s remark and then featuring the records of some of the GOP candidates when it comes to issues that affect women: Sens. Marco Rubio, Rand Paul and Ted Cruz voted against paid sick leave; Gov. Scott Walker repealed an equal pay law in his state; and Jeb Bush made a comment offensive to poor women back in 1994, saying, “women on welfare should get their life together and find a husband.”

“There she goes again with the women’s issues,” Clinton says in a clip featured in the video, pulled from an appearance in Iowa last week. “Well, I’m not going to stop, so get ready for a long campaign.”

July 22, 2015 in Equal Employment, Theory, Work/life, Workplace | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Mothers' Constrained Choice as Victims of Domestic Violence

Rona Kitchen (Duquesne), Constrained Choice: Mothers, The State, and Domestic Violence, Temple Political & Civil Rights L.J. (2015).

Abstract:      

Mothers who are the victims of domestic violence face unique challenges in their quest for safety. The legal response to domestic violence requires that mothers respond to abuse in specific state-sanctioned manners. However, when mothers respond accordingly, such as by reporting abuse and leaving the abusive relationship, their safety and the safety of their children is not guaranteed. Moreover, by responding in state-sanctioned manners, mothers risk a host of negative consequences including increased threat to their immediate and long-term safety, the loss of their children, undesired financial, health, and social consequences, and criminal prosecution. On the other hand, when mothers respond to abuse in unsanctioned manners, such as by staying in abusive relationships, they face similarly hostile consequences including continued abuse, the loss of their children, and criminal prosecution. Thus, regardless of how mothers respond to domestic violence, they risk being harmed by their abuser and the state. As a result battered mothers’ choices are significantly constrained. 

Though the legal response to domestic violence has improved dramatically over the past few decades, reforms are still needed. The state should sanction a broader range of maternal responses to domestic violence and accept greater responsibility for preventing and responding to private family violence. In addition to increasing victim safety, implementation of these reforms would increase respect for maternal autonomy and demonstrate the state’s true commitment to protecting women and children from domestic violence.

July 21, 2015 in Family, Violence Against Women | Permalink | Comments (0)

Women Underrepresented as Lead Trial Lawyers

ABA, Women Underrepresented in Lead Trial Lawyer Positions, ABA Study Reports

Female federal litigators serve as first chair far less frequently than men, and implicit bias is likely a cause, according to a study recently released by the American Bar Association.

 

The study, First Chairs at Trial: More Women Need Seats at the Table (PDF), pulled data from 2013 cases filed in the U.S. District Court for Northern District of Illinois. 558 civil cases, and 50 criminal cases, were randomly selected.

 

Out of the civil cases, 68 percent of all lawyers who made appearances were men, and 76 percent of the lead counsel were men. For the criminal cases, 67 percent of the lead counsel were men. Out of the criminal cases that went to trial, 79 percent of the lawyers serving as lead counsel were men.

 

Women lawyers comprise 36 percent of the legal profession, according to the study. it also notes that 17 percent of large law firm equity partners are women, and women comprise 22 percent of Fortune 500 general counsel.

 

Sponsored by the American Bar Foundation and the Commission on Women in the Profession, the study also examined case types. It found that women appeared as lead counsel in 41 percent of real property cases, but only in 15 percent of the contract cases.

 

Also, the study found that in civil cases involving the U.S. government, 31 percent of the lead counsel for the government were female.

 

In criminal cases, 69 percent of the women who appeared as lead counsel represented the government, and 31 percent represented defendants.

 

Family responsibilities may play a role in opportunities for women lawyers, the study notes, but it also notes potential bias from senior partners and clients, as well as inappropriate comments and treatment from judges and opposing counsel. It mentions a notion that women litigators show too much emotion, but male litigators who show the same level of emotion are often seen as zealous advocates who are passionate about their cases.

 

“All of these issues apply with even greater force” for women litigators of color, according to the study.

 

The ABA’s Commission on Women the Profession plans to work with the profession and identify how women can better get litigation training and courtroom experience.

 

Law schools, the study notes, should specifically teach how women can navigate implicit bias in the courtroom, and let women who want to be litigators know that government jobs probably offer them the most first-chair opportunities.

July 21, 2015 in Women lawyers | Permalink | Comments (0)