Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Gender Sidelining in Schools and the Scourge of Single Sex School Leadership

Jessica Fink & Dr. Kelley King, Gender Sidelining in Schools and the Scourge of Single Sex Leadership 

Concerns about unequal gender representation have plagued virtually every workplace in recent decades. In countless professions, even those in which women comprise a majority of the workforce, leadership positions are dominated by men. Often, the inability of women to rise within the professional hierarchy stems not only from overt acts of sex discrimination, but also from more subtle and nuanced bias in the workplace-bias referred to in other research as "gender sidelining." This sidelining seems particularly paradoxical when it arises in professions in which women already have been funneled due to their gender-including the education sphere. In this way, the K-12 education world represents a microcosm of the bias that female workers encounter more generally-workplaces rife not only with intentional bias, but also with more nuanced barriers, which culminate to create a work environment where women face dead ends, diversions and delays in ways not reached by traditional antidiscrimination laws. This article examines some of the barriers that have prevented women in the K-12 education world from achieving leadership roles, focusing, in particular, on obstacles that largely sit outside of the law-incidents of gender sidelining that would not on their own form the basis of a viable sex discrimination claim. Drawing on both legal principles and social science research, this article not only identifies the extent to which the careers of many women in education have been derailed by various forms of gender sidelining, but also provides suggestions for how to ameliorate these destructive impacts.

June 18, 2024 in Education, Gender | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, June 17, 2024

Jamie R. Abrams Publishes Book on "Inclusive Socratic Teaching" with UC Press

I am excited to share with blog readers that I have published a new book on Inclusive Socratic Teaching: Why Law Schools Need it and How to Achieve It with the University of California Press. The book's synopsis is pasted below. Of particular note to readers is the way in which the book draws upon the sustained and impactful contributions of Feminist Legal Theorists naming and documenting critiques of problematic Socratic performances for over a half of a century. It then maps a set of implementable techniques to adapt and modernize the Socratic method to be more inclusive, effective, and equitable.   

For more than fifty years, scholars have documented and critiqued the marginalizing effects of the Socratic teaching techniques that dominate law school classrooms. In spite of this, law school budgets, staffing models, and course requirements still center Socratic classrooms as the curricular core of legal education. In this clear-eyed book, law professor Jamie R. Abrams catalogs both the harms of the Socratic method and the deteriorating well-being of modern law students and lawyers, concluding that there is nothing to lose and so much to gain by reimagining Socratic teaching. Recognizing that these traditional classrooms are still necessary sites to fortify and catalyze other innovations and values in legal education, Inclusive Socratic Teaching provides concrete tips and strategies to dismantle the autocratic power and inequality that so often characterize these classrooms. A galvanizing call to action, this hands-on guide equips educators and administrators with an inclusive teaching model that reframes the Socratic classroom around teaching techniques that are student centered, skills centered, client centered, and community centered.

June 17, 2024 in Books, Education, Law schools | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, May 28, 2024

New Women Law Deans

Updated 5-28-24

Once again, Gender & the Law Blog's annual list of New Women Law Deans. We will update as announcements are made.

Women are 15 of 29 (52%) new law deans in 2024. 

Aviva Abramovsky, Idaho (previously Dean, Buffalo)

Marcilynn Burke, Tulane (Dean, Oregon)

Anna Carpenter, Oklahoma (Utah, Prof. & Special Advisor to President)

Brietta Clark, Loyola LA (Interim Dean, Loyola LA)

Camille Davidson, Mitchell Hamline, President & Dean (Dean, Southern Illinois)

Jelani Jefferson Exum, St. John's (Dean, Detroit Mercy)

Twinette Johnson, St. Louis (Dean, District Columbia)

Julia Hill, Wyoming (Vice Dean, Alabama)

Johanna Kalb, U San Francisco (Dean, Idaho)

Leslie Kendrick, Virginia (Prof., Virginia)

Stephanie Lindquist, Washington U, St. Louis (Prof., Arizona State)

Alicia Ouellette, Lewis & Clark (President & Dean, Albany)

LaVonda Reed, Baltimore (Dean, Georgia State).

Jenny Roberts, Hofstra (Prof. & Clinic Director, American)

Franita Tolson, USC (Interim Dean, USC)


Marcilynnburke_600   Anna Carpenter    Lavonda.reed_-4117056254-e1711371849757    USC_GSL_Dean_Franita_Tolson_Headshot_20230503_132-350x500-1    Camille M. Davidson    JohannaHill-web    Jelani Jefferson    Stefanie Lindquist    Brietta Clark    Kendrick_leslie    Jenny RobertsDean Twinette Johnson Alicia Ouellette   

May 28, 2024 in Education, Law schools, Women lawyers | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, April 22, 2024

Priya Baskaran on Critical Legal Research in Law Clinics

Priya Baskaran has published "Searching for Justice: Incorporating Critical Legal Research into Clinic Seminar" in Volume 30 of the Clinical Law Review. The article concludes:   

The progenitors of CLR — Delgado and Stefancic — reiterate the importance of “reinventing, modifying, flipping, and radically transforming legal doctrines and theories imaginatively” to pursue justice and law reform. Law is a profession that recreates hierarchy and predictability; thus, law reform and justice require “mulling over what an ideal legal world would look like from the client’s perspective.”


This type of contextual critical thinking is exactly what clinical legal education seeks to develop. When lawyers focus on the rule and only the rule, they place a specific box around the problem. The problem and potential resolutions, when so narrowly categorized, are limited to the universe of “settled law” and stifle innovative solutions. Such restrictions are in direct opposition to the best interest of the client —who is expecting the lawyer to help engage in creative problem solving and advocacy, rather than simply upholding the status quo and perpetuating harm and injustice. From a metacognition perspective, restrictive and limited construction also harms the students’ intellectual development and capacity. Strict adherence to the rule prevents effective learning for transfer by reinforcing subject matter silos. Students make only surface level connections rather than understanding the underlying structural issues and engaging in applied critical thinking. In contrast, “a conceptual advance that sees old material in a new light” can lead to the type of creative lawyering that is necessary to champion justice. Our current moment desperately calls for wide-ranging, transformative social change. Communities face increasing economic precarity as decades of divestment continue to erode social infrastructure and safety nets. In the wake of this draconian and shameful legal regression that entrenches harmful hegemonies, we cannot train students to merely accept precedent or the myth of a neutral judiciary. Advocating for vulnerable clients will require far more creative and strategic attorneys who are able not only to conceptualize creative arguments, but also to work collaboratively with grassroots groups pushing for greater change through concerted organizing and political mobilization.


Training students in CLR equips them with the critical thinking skills and research strategies to navigate the deeply flawed legal systems and imperfect research resources. Despite the challenges, we should find a way to incorporate CLR into clinical pedagogy as an important step in the continued fight against injustice.

April 22, 2024 in Education, Law schools | Permalink | Comments (0)

Amended Title IX Regulations

The Department of Education published amended Title IX regulations. The agency summarized the key changes in the regulations as including: 

  • Define “sex-based harassment” * * *
  • Provide and clarify definitions of various terms related to a recipient’s obligations to address sex discrimination, including sex-based harassment;
  • Clarify a recipient’s required response to sex discrimination . . . in its education program or activity;
  • Strengthen a recipient’s obligations to provide prompt and equitable grievance procedures and to take other necessary steps when it receives a complaint * * *; and
  • Provide for additional requirements in grievance procedures at postsecondary institutions.
  • With regard to discrimination against individuals who are pregnant or parenting, the final
    • Define the terms “pregnancy or related conditions” and “parental status”;
    • Clarify the prohibition on discrimination against students and applicants for admission and employees or applicants for employment on the basis of current, potential, or past pregnancy or related conditions; and
    • Clarify a recipient’s obligations to students and employees who are pregnant or experiencing pregnancy-related conditions.* *
  • Clarify and streamline administrative requirements with respect to designating a Title IX Coordinator, disseminating a nondiscrimination notice, adopting grievance procedures, and maintaining records;
  • Specify that a recipient must train a range of relevant persons on the recipient’s obligations under Title IX;
  • Clarify that, except as permitted by certain provisions of Title IX or the regulations, a recipient must not carry out any otherwise permissible different treatment or separation on the basis of sex in a way that would cause more than de minimis harm, including by adopting a policy or engaging in a practice that prevents a person from participating in an education program or activity consistent with their gender identity; and
  • Clarify a recipient’s obligation to address retaliation.

The 19th News reported on LGBTQ+ advocates' call for President Biden to do more to protect transgender athletes. 

A coalition of equal rights supporters representing over 20 groups —  including LGBTQ+ advocacy groups the Human Rights Campaign, GLSEN and the Trevor Project — issued a joint statement on Friday arguing that the new regulations do too little to protect transgender athletes.


“This regulation does not go far enough in making the law’s protections clear for all student athletes,” the statement said. “Currently, 37 percent of transgender, nonbinary, and intersex youth live in states with laws that ban them from participating in sports consistent with their gender identity. As with all students, Title IX protects transgender, nonbinary and intersex student athletes from discriminatory policies, as the Biden administration has already argued in court and a federal appeals court upheld just this week.” 


The coalition called on the Biden administration to “finish the job” by leaving no doubt in the regulations that transgender, nonbinary and intersex student-athletes have protections under Title IX. 


April 22, 2024 in Education, Gender, LGBT | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, April 2, 2024

New Women Law Deans

Once again, Gender & the Law Blog's annual list of New Women Law Deans.

LaVonda Reed, Baltimore (previously Dean at Georgia State).

April 2, 2024 in Education, Law schools, Women lawyers | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, March 20, 2024

Learning the Law Through Taylor Swift Cases

Taylor Swift in a graduation gown

ABA J., Swift Justice: Students Learn About the Law Through Taylor Swift Cases

As anyone who pays attention to current events knows all too well, Taylor Swift has become ubiquitous.

She’s touring the world, playing to sold out stadiums on her record-breaking “The Eras Tour.” She’s in movie theaters, showing a version of said tour to enchanted Swifties who either couldn’t see her in person or did and want to relive their best day.

She’s at NFL games, trying to bring good karma for her boyfriend, Travis Kelce, and his team, the Kansas City Chiefs. She’s talked about on cable news and social media, as the political world waits to see if she’ll speak now about who she’s endorsing in the 2024 presidential election.

And in at least two law schools, she’s the subject of a class available to students wanting to gain practical knowledge about the law by studying her various legal entanglements and how she emerged stronger.

At the University of Miami School of Law, there was “Intellectual Property Law Through the Lens of Taylor Swift,” a seven-week course taught by Vivek Jayaram, founder of Jayaram Law and co-director of the Arts Law Track in Miami Law’s Entertainment, Arts and Sports Law LL.M program.

Jayaram, who has practiced intellectual property and corporate law for over 20 years, came up with the idea for the class at lunch one day with Gregory Levy, associate dean of Miami Law. Jayaram had just read an article about Swift’s lawsuit with Evermore Park, a theme park in Utah that sued her for trademark infringement after she released an album titled “Evermore” in December 2020.

There were some other lawsuits and legal disputes he had read about involving Swift, including a well-publicized fight starting in 2019 over ownership of her old master recordings that led to her re-recording her back catalogue. There also was a 2014 battle with Spotify over streaming royalties and 2015 deals with JD.com and Alibaba to combat Chinese counterfeiting of her merchandise.

“I said to Greg: ‘I bet Swifties know more about IP law than a lot of lawyers,’” recalls Jayaram, whose favorite Swift album is 1989. “That initiated a bit of a conversation about centering an IP class around her.”

The inaugural class, which met in the spring of 2023, had about 25-30 students. Jayaram says his end game was to use Swift as a means of exploring interesting issues in IP law. He adds that while she was hardly the first artist to experience copyright and trademark issues, she has dealt with them in interesting, innovative ways that have allowed her to experience greater success.

“She’s not the first one who has re-recorded her old songs, but she’s really the only one who has been really successful at it,” says Jayaram, pointing out artists as diverse as The Everly Brothers, Journey and Def Leppard have tried it, with significantly less commercially successful results. “It’s very unusual to do this and have it shoot up to the top of the charts.”

Another law professor had a similar epiphany—this time, after speaking with some of his students who were excited about going to various shows on her recent “The Eras Tour.” “I thought that she could work as a class,” says Sean Kammer, an environmental and torts law professor at University of South Dakota Knudson School of Law. “I got to work and started from the point of view of what are the ways we can use Taylor Swift and her music to learn about the law?”

Kammer’s class, called “The Taylor Swift Effect,” does not just focus on IP law—instead, it looks at various issues, including how Swift’s songwriting and storytelling can help lawyers become better advocates.

“We look at questions that are more theoretical, like how we experience music and how we derive very deep meanings from these pieces,” says Kammer, whose favorite Swift song is “All Too Well” (10 Minute Version). “At the end of the class, we look at what we can learn as creators of legal arguments, to tell the stories we need to tell, by taking lessons from how a songwriter writes a song in terms of organization, style and narrative.”

Other undergraduate and graduate schools have opened their course catalogs to the multi-Grammy winner and recently certified billionaire. Stanford University, Arizona State, Rice University, the University of California at Berkeley and others have introduced classes examining a range of issues, including her lyrical and musical style, the psychology of her music and relationships, and business-oriented courses examining her as an entrepreneur.

March 20, 2024 in Education, Law schools, Pop Culture | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, March 13, 2024

Solidifying Students' Rights to Gender Expression, A Response to Dara Purvis, Transgender Students and the First Amendment

Scott Skinner-Thompson, Solidifying Students' Right to Gender Expression, 104 Boston U. L. Rev.  (2024)

The genders and sexualities of students are regulated, shaped, and oppressed by formal school policies and informal educational norms. Some of these policies are quite obvious; others subtler. Such regulation includes rigid binary-based dress codes, ad hoc policing of gender non-normative clothing, sex-segregated spaces and activities, regulation of student pronoun use, and literal gender identity committees for determining students’ eligibility for athletic participation. Against this backdrop of social control, students routinely seek freedom—the freedom to explore, understand, develop, and express their genders and sexualities. Indeed, expression of one’s gender and sexuality—through clothing, nomenclature, pronouns, association, use of sex-segregated spaces, and more—is at the heart of being and becoming one’s gender and sexuality. For those reasons, the First Amendment’s protections for free speech—for free expression—have served as a cornerstone of queer liberation for over a half-century, protecting queer people’s ability to gather together, develop their identities, and share their experiences. And to the extent the First Amendment provides special solicitude to speech that runs against cultural grains, renewed emphasis on the expressive components of gender identity could provide significant protection for beautifully nonconforming gender identities. Notwithstanding the First Amendment’s queer pedigree and emancipatory potential, the operationalization of free speech rights for transgender and gender-nonconforming students remains underdeveloped. That lack of precise development leaves queer students’ right to expression (and right to their identities) vulnerable to erosion or, worse still, weaponization against them.Thankfully, Dara Purvis’s new article, Transgender Students and the First Amendment, provides a great service by refining the governing tests for determining whether schools are impermissibly infringing students’ gender expression. Building on her tremendous prior scholarship in this area, Professor Purvis underscores how students’ gender expression is potentially vulnerable to regulation pursuant to two principal doctrinal arguments that may help such regulation elide the First Amendment. The first riposte Purvis addresses is that students’ non-normative expression is “disruptive” to the educational environment and therefore permissibly silenced pursuant to the governing test first articulated in Tinker v. Des Moines. The second is that students’ gender expression might be characterized as lewd and therefore subject to constitutionally tolerable restriction pursuant to Bethel v. Fraser. With regard to each, Purvis confronts these potential doctrinal vulnerabilities by taking account of the broader social ecosystem of both the school house and the state house. In other words, she flips the scripts and explains how the schools and legislatures themselves are disrupting transgender students’ expression and sexualizing nonnormative gender identities.

March 13, 2024 in Constitutional, Education, LGBT | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Feminist Pedagogy in Legal Education

Jamie Abrams, Feminist Pedagogy in Legal Education, Oxford Handbook of Feminism & the Law in the U.S. (Deborah Brake, Martha Chamallas & Verna Williams, eds. 2023).

This chapter . . .  traces and evaluates the influences of feminism in legal education. It explores how feminist critiques challenged the substance of legal rules, the methods of law teaching, and the culture of legal education. Following decades of advocacy, feminist pedagogical reforms have generated new fields, new courses, new laws, new leaders, and new feminist spaces. This chapter captures many reasons to celebrate the accomplishments of our feminist pioneers and champions. It also serves as a critical call to action to modern faculty, administrators, and students to carry the work forward with a vigilant purpose and determination.

February 21, 2024 in Education, Law schools, Theory | Permalink | Comments (0)

New Book: Inclusive Socratic Teaching

New book from my co-editor on the Gender & Law Blog. 

Inclusive Socratic Teaching by Jamie R. Abrams

Jamie Abrams, Inclusive Socrative Teaching: Why Law Schools Need it and How to Achieve It (U.C. Press June 2024)

For more than fifty years, scholars have documented and critiqued the marginalizing effects of the Socratic teaching techniques that dominate law school classrooms. In spite of this, law school budgets, staffing models, and course requirements still center Socratic classrooms as the curricular core of legal education. In this clear-eyed book, law professor Jamie R. Abrams catalogs both the harms of the Socratic method and the deteriorating well-being of modern law students and lawyers, concluding that there is nothing to lose and so much to gain by reimagining Socratic teaching. Recognizing that these traditional classrooms are still necessary sites to fortify and catalyze other innovations and values in legal education, Inclusive Socratic Teaching provides concrete tips and strategies to dismantle the autocratic power and inequality that so often characterize these classrooms. A galvanizing call to action, this hands-on guide equips educators and administrators with an inclusive teaching model that reframes the Socratic classroom around teaching techniques that are student centered, skills centered, client centered, and community centered


February 21, 2024 in Books, Education, Law schools | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, January 31, 2024

Campus Wars, Women Leaders, and the Glass Cliff

NYT, Campus Wars Aren't About Gender--Are They?


“Four women presidents, all new in their roles, far too new to have shaped the culture on their campuses, called before Congress? Of course there’s a pattern,” Dr. Andrews said. “The question is, What’s the agenda? Is it to take down women leaders? To attack elite universities through a perceived vulnerability? To further a political purpose?”

Privately if not always publicly, other women in the academy described a similar reaction to the spectacle around the hearing on Dec. 5 and the fallout since: Ms. Magill and Dr. Gay resigned, their critics made it clear they were coming for Dr. Kornbluth, and last week, prominent male donors demanded the ouster of Cornell president Martha Pollack, too.


Are women more likely to end up in vulnerable positions? Social psychologists have proposed the idea of the “glass cliff” to describe the phenomenon of women who become leaders in times of crisis. In institutions not used to female leaders, they are seen as weaker. Subject to greater scrutiny, they tend to fail sooner.

“It’s not clear whether they’re selected because it’s a difficult time and people think women can make it better when things are bad, or if women are really set up, inadvertently or advertently,” said Madeline Heilman, an emerita professor at New York University who has conducted decades of experiments on sex bias in the workplace. Whatever the case, she said, “if they both start well and a man does poorly, people offer excuses and other reasons before they see it as indicative of what he’s like. For a woman, it fits into the stereotype of not being qualified. What is seen as a mistake for men is a lethal error for a woman.”

Decades of experiments show other ways that stereotypes disadvantage women. Men and women alike are too stingy when evaluating women and too generous when evaluating men, whether what’s being judged is their height or the strength of their C.V. Studies of millions of scientific papers find that those with women as lead author are far less likely to be cited than those led by men. Reports on the status of women on individual campuses and from national organizations  document  marginalization and persistent disrespect. Taken in isolation, such episodes can seem small, but they add up, leaving female professors earning less and taking longer to be promoted, irrespective of productivity. Fed up, many “senior” women leave.

January 31, 2024 in Education, Equal Employment, Gender | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, October 26, 2023

New Study Shows that Even With Tenure Women are More Likely to Leave Higher Ed

Chronicle, Even With Tenure, Women Are More Likely to Leave Higher Ed

Across academe, women are more likely to leave their faculty positions than men, and attrition is highest for women who have tenure or work in fields outside of science, technology, engineering, and math, according to a new study.

And even when men and women leave at the same rate, their reasons for doing so are gendered: Early-career women are more likely to leave due to issues with work-life balance, while women later in their careers are more likely to leave because of a hostile work environment. Men tend to cite professional reasons, such as a lack of resources or support.***

Women were more likely to leave their faculty roles than men at every career stage, and the gap grew wider at the top of the ladder. At the assistant-professor level, women were 6 percent more likely to leave than men. Among full professors, that figure was 19 percent.

Tenured faculty leaving at the highest rate is surprising, Raj said. But she speculated that women with tenure might be able to transition into other careers more easily than their less-experienced colleagues if the environment drives them out.

Women at less prestigious institutions were also more likely to quit.

Women most often cited issues with workplace climate as their reasons for leaving, such as harassment, dysfunctional department leadership, and feelings of not belonging. Men most often recounted professional reasons for leaving, such as difficulty obtaining funding or poor administrative support.

Previously, research has shown that one of the biggest drivers of inequity between women and men on the faculty is responsibilities at home. Additionally, Raj has observed gender gaps in sponsorship from more senior academics and in service work such as mentoring students.

Study, Science Advances, Gender and Retention Patterns Among US Faculty

Women remain underrepresented among faculty in nearly all academic fields. Using a census of 245,270 tenure-track and tenured professors at United States–based PhD-granting departments, we show that women leave academia overall at higher rates than men at every career age, in large part because of strongly gendered attrition at lower-prestige institutions, in non-STEM fields, and among tenured faculty. A large-scale survey of the same faculty indicates that the reasons faculty leave are gendered, even for institutions, fields, and career ages in which retention rates are not. Women are more likely than men to feel pushed from their jobs and less likely to feel pulled toward better opportunities, and women leave or consider leaving because of workplace climate more often than work-life balance. These results quantify the systemic nature of gendered faculty retention; contextualize its relationship with career age, institutional prestige, and field; and highlight the importance of understanding the gendered reasons for attrition rather than focusing on rates alone.

October 26, 2023 in Education, Equal Employment, Gender, Workplace | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, October 18, 2023

A Theory of Perversity as an Outer Bound of Rational Basis Review

Professor Boone's theory discussed, and then applied to the contexts of abstinence-only sex education, mandatory arrest laws in domestic violence, and targeted regulation of abortion providers.

Meghan Boone, Perverse & Irrational, 16 Harv. Law & Policy Rev. (2022)  

In our system of representative democracy, legislatures are given a great deal of latitude to select and pass laws that they deem to be in the public interest. Assuming that no suspect class or fundamental right is involved, the Constitution has been interpreted to only require legislative action to satisfy rational basis review—a highly deferential standard that requires only that a legitimate purpose exist and the means adopted to achieve that purpose are rationally related to that purpose. Under rational basis review, legislatures can and do enact laws that are significantly over- or underinclusive to the identified problem. They can enact laws that do not even accomplish their intended purpose in most instances. They can even enact laws which are unsupported by any evidence, much less high-quality evidence. And yet . . . courts insist that rational basis review still means something. That it is something other than a blank check for legislatures to do as they will.

This Article explores one example of the outer bounds of rationality—demonstrated perversity. That is, a law that clearly contravenes the overarching legislative intent because the law is solely or primarily responsible for producing the opposite result of that intent. Although often unnamed as such, perversity presents itself across the legislative landscape, from mundane local ordinances to sweeping federal legislation. And while not explicitly recognized as a basis for finding a law unconstitutional, Supreme Court precedent clearly hints at the possibility that demonstrated perversity could be a basis for invalidating laws.

By defining perversity, identifying when and how it occurs, and exploring how it might be used to challenge the constitutionality of various government actions, this Article aims to illuminate an undertheorized corner of the already robust literature on rational basis review. It argues that current rational basis review precedent already employs a type of perversity analysis, although courts fail to explicitly acknowledge it as such. Moreover, it argues that modern changes in scientific and empirical methodologies and the explosion of the information economy demonstrate the need for this type of analysis; without it, rational basis review is meaningless. Ultimately, the Article concludes that while rational basis scrutiny gives legislatures wide latitude, courts must set a constitutional limit by striking down statutes which cause outcomes clearly counterproductive to legislative goals.

October 18, 2023 in Abortion, Education, Reproductive Rights, Theory, Violence Against Women | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, October 6, 2023

Teaching Patriarchy After Barbie

Teaching Patriarchy Post-Barbie, Ms.

Like many, I’m grateful that this summer’s Barbie film has moviegoers around the world talking about the patriarchy. I am delighted that the highest-grossing movie of 2023 has brought the word “patriarchy” into our daily parlance. Now that we have the language to describe our predicament, it’s critically important to keep talking about the patriarchy, and to keep going down the path that Barbie takes us on to investigate the way our daily lives are impacted by patriarchal constructs. I’ve been using similar tactics to the Barbie movie to introduce these ideas to my first-year students at UC Santa Cruz, with revealing results.

Most students sign up for my composition course to fulfill a general writing requirement, without knowing what the subject of the class will be. When they discover the topic on the first day of class, some students express that they have no desire to “Come Closer to Feminism,” as I have titled the course (borrowing this phrase from bell hooks’ marvelous handbook Feminism is for Everybody).

Faced with this reality, I have had to create a way for students to learn about feminism even if they initially describe themselves as anti-feminist. My goal is to make the course accessible and applicable for everyone who is placed into it. This includes helping students of all backgrounds unpack how the intersections of their individual gender, racial and sexual identities make them particularly privileged—or oppressed—within our patriarchal society.

October 6, 2023 in Education, Pop Culture, Theory | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, September 28, 2023

Finding a Constructive and Fair Way to Frame the Rhetoric of Rape

Kathryn Stanchi, The Rhetoric of Rape Through the Lens of Commonwealth v. Berkowitz, International Journal for the Semiotics of Law (Forthcoming)

United States law and culture have yet to find a constructive and fair way to talk about rape, especially in “non-paradigmatic” rape cases like acquaintance or date rape. Particularly on college campuses, acquaintance rape is an ongoing, severe problem. Leading legal minds disagree sharply on how to address it. In part, this polarizing debate stems from our collective inability to free our language of the myths and stock stories that plague the subject of rape. No court case better exemplifies the problem than the notorious decision of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court in Commonwealth v. Berkowitz, one of the most widely taught rape cases in the United States. In his empirical study of attitudes on rape, Professor Dan Kahan used the Berkowitz facts in part because they are such an iconic representation of some of the more difficult and troubling issues surrounding acquaintance rape. In that study, Kahan concluded that whether people perceive a story as describing “rape” depends primarily on cultural cognition, meaning the cultural group to which the reader of the story belongs. The text and substance of the law’s definition of rape mattered little. Kahan concluded that if we wish to change outcomes in rape cases, the cultural understandings of rape, more than the law, must change.

This essay takes Kahan’s conclusion that cultural understanding is the primary driver of rape outcomes and asks the question: from where does that cultural understanding come? In no small part, this essay argues, those cultural beliefs come from the law, particularly from legal narratives. The facts of judicial opinions reflect the judges’ cultural understanding of rape and then that cultural understanding becomes what rape is (and isn’t). That image of rape then powerfully influences cultural understanding within and outside of law. It is a recursive process by which legal narratives create and reinforce cultural understanding which then itself creates and reinforces legal narratives and so on in an endless loop. In this way, law is neither irrelevant nor innocent in the outcome of rape cases. It is just exerting its influence, often imperceptibly, through rhetoric.

September 28, 2023 in Education, Theory, Violence Against Women | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, September 12, 2023

An Analysis of the Heightened Procedural Protections for Title IX Campus Sexual Misconduct Cases

Kelly Behre, The Irony of Title IX: Exploring How Colleges Implement Credibility Discounts Against Student Victims of Gender-Based Violence In Campus Misconduct Case," 103 Boston U. L. Rev. Online 109 (2023)

On May 6, 2020, the U.S. Department of Education released new Title IX regulations requiring colleges to provide expanded due process rights for student respondents in campus misconduct cases involving sexual assault, dating violence, and stalking. A little over a year earlier, a California appellate court also expanded rights to student respondents in sexual misconduct cases, indicating that the trend is not limited to one particular presidential administration.2 To those unfamiliar with typical campus adjudication procedures, many of the new rights federal and state law afford respondents in campus misconduct cases involving gender-based violence might seem intuitive. The right to retained counsel, the right to a live hearing following an investigation, the right to cross-examine all witnesses, and the right to appeal are all common in U.S. criminal and civil law systems. But when placed within the context of campus misconduct procedures, the normalization of these protections for only one class of student respondents requires interrogation. The expanded due process rights do not apply to all students responding to campus misconduct violations; they do not even apply to all students responding to violations that could also constitute crimes or result in expulsion or suspension from college. The new rights only protect students responding to campus misconduct violations that involve gender-based violence, and the resulting harms of the additional procedures only burden student victims of gender-based violence.

This article provides specific examples of campus misconduct procedures demonstrating how colleges may provide heightened procedural protections to student respondents and heightened burdens to student complainants in gender-based violence cases that diverge from their adjudication procedures for other forms of misconduct on the same campus. Part I provides a brief overview of the current legal landscape for campus adjudications involving gender-based violence. Part II employs two hypothetical fact patterns to identify specific differences between the procedural protections campuses provide students responding to a complaint of physical assault against another student generally and the protections provided to students responding to a complaint of physical assault against a current or former dating partner. Part III addresses how heightened procedural protections for student respondents cause additional harms for student complainants in campus cases involving gender-based violence. Part IV explores the role that credibility discounting of victims of gender-based violence plays in the creation of heightened procedural protections for respondents in campus misconduct cases involving gender-based violence. It further suggests that any future changes to Title IX policy involving campus misconduct procedures should include an analysis comparing the rights and protections colleges afford respondents in gender-based violence adjudications to all other respondents in campus misconduct adjudications.

September 12, 2023 in Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, August 18, 2023

Ninth Circuit Says Law Banning Transgender Students is Likely Unconstitutional

ABA J, Law Banning Transgender Students from Female Sports Likely Unconstitutional, Ninth Circuit Says

A federal appeals court on Thursday ruled for a transgender college student who challenged an Idaho law that bars transgender athletes from participating in women’s and girls' student sports in public schools.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals at San Francisco upheld a finding that the law likely violates the equal protection clause, according to an Aug. 17 press release by the American Civil Liberties Union.

Bloomberg Law has coverage.

The appeals court ruled for Lindsay Hecox, a student at Boise State University who wanted to try out for the cross-country team and play club soccer.

The 9th Circuit upheld an injunction banning enforcement of the Idaho law, the Fairness in Women’s Sports Act. The law bars all transgender women and girls from participating in or trying out for public school female sports teams at every age—from intramural to elite teams.

The law provides for a verification process that can be invoked by a person who wants to dispute another person’s sex. The process requires “intrusive medical procedures,” the appeals court said in an Aug. 17 opinion by Judge Kim McLane Wardlaw.

The American Civil Liberties Union had filed the lawsuit, along with the ACLU of Idaho, Legal Voice and Cooley.

The case is Hecox v. Little.

August 18, 2023 in Constitutional, Education, LGBT, Sports | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, August 17, 2023

Analyzing the Glass Ceiling of the NCAA's Name, Image and Likeness Rule under Title IX

Tanyon Boston, The NIL Glass Ceiling, Richmond L. Rev. (forthcoming)  

On July 1, 2021, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) adopted the most progressive reform in modern intercollegiate athletics history when it conceded the right of nearly 500,000 NCAA athletes to monetize their names, images and likenesses (NILs). This historic reform followed the enactment of dozens of state laws on the topic and a unanimous Supreme Court decision in NCAA v. Alston, which held that the national governing body violated antitrust laws with its restrictions on athletes’ educational, and perhaps other, benefits. Almost immediately, wealthy University of Texas donors established an unprecedented $10,000,000 collective to finance NIL opportunities for Longhorns athletes. Today, there are over one hundred collectives, whose NIL opportunities favor men’s sports by a ratio of over five-to-one. Such enormous disparities in privately financed NIL send women discouraging messages about the state of gender equity, not only in intercollegiate athletics, but also in the workplace – where women face similar glass ceilings.

Although legal scholars have written extensively on the antitrust, labor and tax law implications of NIL, very little scholarship exists on the Title IX implications. In seeking to fill the gap, this Article uses a hypothetical state university to illustrate how schools facilitate gender discrimination through NIL collectives, contrary to Title IX. After exploring the implications of Title IX’s regulatory gap with respect to NIL, this Article introduces three proposals to close the gap.

August 17, 2023 in Education, Sports | Permalink | Comments (0)

Fla College Moves to Dismantle Gender Studies Arguing it is Not an Area of Academic Study

Chronicle, New College of Florida's Board Starts to Dismantle Gender Studies

Earlier this year, the conservative activist and writer Christopher F. Rufo proclaimed that intolerant left-wingers had essentially captured New College of Florida, the state’s designated honors college. As a newly appointed trustee, Rufo employed the rhetoric of battle in describing his effort to right the ship:

“We will plunge into a period of inevitable conflict and controversy, with determination to advance the interests of the people of Florida ... to demonstrate that there is a way out of the institutional hostage crisis,” he wrote in City Journal.

During a board meeting Thursday, Rufo lobbed a grenade. He made a motion — which ultimately passed — to “direct the president and staff to take the necessary and proper steps to terminate the gender-studies program, beginning with the 2024 enrollees.”***

Rufo said that the gender-studies program was not compatible with the Board of Trustees’ mission of reviving a “classical liberal-arts education” at New College. During the 35-minute discussion of his motion, he argued that there is “great historical precedent” at other colleges for abolishing academic programs that “stray from their scholarly mission in favor of ideological activism.”***

Matthew Spalding, a trustee, echoed Rufo’s criticism of gender studies. “It’s not within the liberal arts, and it’s more of an ideological movement than an academic discipline,” said Spalding, dean of Hillsdale College’s Graduate School of Government, in Washington D.C., who was appointed to the board by DeSantis.

“It’s a mishmosh of things,” Spalding said at another point in the meeting. “Read the website — I have no idea what it’s about. It’s very confused.”

Mark Bauerlein, another DeSantis appointee and a professor emeritus of English at Emory University, in Georgia, said that while he’s not “against” gender studies, he does not think it should be an “independent disciplinary entity.”

During the meeting, Reid argued that gender studies is an established discipline at many higher-ed institutions. Some New College students take courses in gender studies because, for them, it is a “significant component of a liberal-arts degree,” she added

August 17, 2023 in Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, August 15, 2023

New Book Equality Unfulfilled: How Title IX's Policy Design Undermines Change to College Sports

New Book by Elizabeth Sharrow About Title IX "Equality Unfulfilled" is Published

Elizabeth Sharrow, associate professor of public policy and history, has published a new book, “Equality Unfulfilled: How Title IX’s Policy Design Undermines Change to College Sport” (Cambridge University Press, July 2023), examining the half-century legacy of the law’s passage.

As Sharrow and co-author James Druckman of Northwestern University explain in the book, the year 1972 is often hailed as an inflection point in the evolution of women’s rights. Congress passed Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, a law that outlawed sex-based discrimination in education. Many Americans celebrate Title IX for having ushered in an era of expanded opportunity for women’s athletics, yet 50 years after its passage sex-based inequalities in college athletics remain the reality. “Equality Unfulfilled” explains why, identifying institutional roadblocks – including sex-based segregation, androcentric organizational cultures and overbearing market incentives – that undermine efforts to achieve systemic change.

Drawing on surveys with student-athletes, athletic administrators, college coaches, members of the public and fans of college sports, it highlights how institutions shape attitudes toward gender equity policy. It offers novel lessons not only for those interested in college sports but for everyone seeking to understand the barriers that any marginalized group faces in their quest for equality.



The cover art for the book Equality Unfulfilled by Elizabeth Sharrow

August 15, 2023 in Books, Education, Legal History, Sports | Permalink | Comments (0)