Monday, June 20, 2022

Trailblazing and Living a Purposeful Life in the Law: A Dakota Woman's Reflections as a Law Professor

Angelique Eaglewoman, Trailblazing and Living a Purposeful Life in the Law: A Dakota Woman’s Reflections as a Law Professor, 51 Southwestern U. L. Rev. (2022)

This Essay is a reflection from my perspective as a Dakota woman law professor on my fifth law school faculty. In the illuminating work of Meera Deo, light is shone on the experience of women of color legal academics. "Unequal Profession: Race and Gender in Legal Academia" is a book that should be required reading at every law school. As women of color are faculty members in every law school in the United States, the research, analysis, and recommendations tailored to the experience of women of color law faculty should be a priority topic in those same law schools. As a Native American woman law professor, my experience and journey in legal academia resonate with many of the topics in this important work.

In Part I of this Essay, the necessity of trailblazing is discussed due to the lack of Native American women in the legal academy. Issues around visibility, ethnic fraud, and tribal sovereignty will be discussed. Part II will explore the challenges identified in "Unequal Profession" through a raceXgender framework and provide a personal perspective on dealing with such challenges. The themes of invisibility and lack of respect experienced as a Native American woman law professor will be discussed. The final section in Part III will provide insight into the motivation to stay the course and continue to make space in legal academia. In living a purposeful life, there is a choice to be a law professor as a Native woman with the goal of holding the door open for more Native American faculty, law students, and legal administrators to walk through.

June 20, 2022 in Education, Law schools, Religion, Women lawyers | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, June 10, 2022

Recognizing and Crediting the Invisible Labor of Women Law Professors of Color

Ederlina Co, Weathering Invisible Labor, 51 Southwestern Law Review 258 (2022)

Professor Meera Deo’s Unequal Profession: Race and Gender in Legal Academia powerfully demonstrates how the legal academy has adopted many of American society’s social hierarchies as they relate to race and gender. Inspired by Unequal Profession and using a Critical Race Feminism framework, this Essay centers on women of color professors and the problem of invisible labor in legal academia.

Although for many women of color professors invisible labor involves a labor of love, this Essay contends that the legal academy’s unwillingness to recognize it in a meaningful manner marginalizes women of color professors, devalues how important invisible labor is to law students, law schools, and the legal profession, and perpetuates a race-gender institutional bias. This Essay recommends steps that law school administrators and allies can take immediately to recognize invisible labor but also suggests that the time has come for the legal academy to begin to reexamine how it values “service” more broadly.

June 10, 2022 in Books, Law schools, Race, Theory, Women lawyers | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, April 11, 2022

Graham Ferris on "Law Students Wellbeing and Vulnerability"

Graham Ferris has published Law Students Wellbeing and Vulnerability in volume 56 of The Law Teacher. Here is the article abstract: 

There is compelling evidence that law students in the UK, USA, and Australia are subject to low levels of wellbeing. * * * Low wellbeing is produced by difficulties responding to stressors and life events, or low resilience. Therefore, law students are a subgroup of a larger group of young people with low resilience, however, law students have lower self-reported wellbeing than the overall student group. The trend for student wellbeing is downwards. Vulnerability theory offers a theoretically coherent heuristic that can enable us to think constructively about the problems of law students and students generally and to generate ideas for potentially beneficial courses of action. With such widespread phenomena, for law students across three continents and over many years, it is unrealistic to posit individualistic explanations as causes. Resilience, and consequent wellbeing, is not best understood as a characteristic of individuals but as generated or degraded by life histories, family and community resources, institutional supports or stressors, and social factors. We need to look at institutional and cultural factors if our response is to be coherent and effective. We need to seek a responsive law school in a responsive university in a responsive state.

The article emphasizes the importance of a legal curriculum that recognizes vulnerability. 

All of these suggestions share a common characteristic, they are reactions to assumptions in the curriculum about the characteristics of the ideal hyper-rational, masculine, autonomous, competitive, liberal subject. Being autonomous and competitive they neglect collective action. Being hyper-rational and autonomous they have no emotional needs and are happy if left at liberty to pursue their own pre-given ends. Being masculine they are primarily the recipients of care, not care givers. Neo-liberalism reduces all values to money and market choices. The law exists to sustain markets, not to impose collective values upon markets. Vulnerability theory rejects this world view and asserts the importance of social reproduction, of the vulnerable individual, and the need for collective responses to deficiencies in resilience. A legal curriculum that recognizes vulnerability as fundamental to law and justice would provide a counterbalance to the current pervasive drift towards neo-liberal paradigms.

April 11, 2022 in Healthcare, Law schools, Masculinities | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, April 4, 2022

LSSSE Blog on Inclusive Socratic Teaching

I have published a guest blog with the Law School Survey of Student Engagement. The Law School Survey of Student Engagement is a vital tool to understanding the experiences of students in our classrooms. Here is an excerpt: 

* * * Student-centered Socratic teaching is a vital component to inclusive and effective Socratic classrooms. * * * [I]nclusion can be learned, cultivated, and measured.  Tracie Marcella Addy, Derek Dube, Khadijah A. Mitchell & Mallory E. SoRell, What Inclusive Instructors Do 4 (2021). Inclusive instructors take responsibility for delivering methods and materials that meet the needs of all learners. They learn about their students and care for them. They continuously adapt to help students thrive and belong.

The annual Law School Survey of Student Engagement (LSSSE) is an important portal into examining the needs, challenges, and lived experiences of our students collectively, particularly as it reveals a changing climate. LSSSE’s 2021 Annual Report yields a critical call to action to support our students. It reveals how students are navigating heightened levels of “loneliness, depression, and anxiety.” Meera E. Deo, Jacquelyn Petzold, and Chad Christensen, The COVID Crisis in Legal Education, Law School Survey of Student Engagement Annual Report 5 (2021). A staggering 85% of students experienced depression that compromised their daily functioning in the past year, with higher percentages of women reporting distress. Id. at 12.

* * * Reflecting on these student experiences stirs us from our own COVID-19 fatigue to illuminate a path advancing intersecting curricular reforms. While no professor can alleviate the essential external challenges of our students, we can fortify the dominant Socratic classroom experience to minimize its abstract perspectivelessness. Socratic classrooms can be student-centered, skills-centered, client-centered, and community-centered, pivoting from professor-centered, power-centered, and anxiety-inducing. LSSSE’s analysis, reinforced by our direct student engagement, inspires us to reform Socratic classrooms with students, not simply for students. Sensitized to our student experiences liberates us to disrupt the status quo knowing that all students might benefit from greater connection, intentionality, and applicability in our Socratic classrooms.

April 4, 2022 in Law schools | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, March 30, 2022

2022 New Women Law Deans

Updated March 30, 2022

Each year Gender & the Law Prof tracks the new appointments of women deans in law schools.  We begin the list here, expecting updates as the spring progresses.

Michele Alexandre, Loyola Chicago (former Dean, Stetson)

Nicola Boothe, Univ. Illinois, Chicago (former Interim Dean, Associate Dean, Florida A&M)

Camille Carey, New Mexico (former Vice and Associate Dean, New Mexico)

Lisa Freudenheim, New England (former Co-Acting and Associate Dean, New England)

Leah Chan Grinvald, UNLV (former Associate Dean, Suffolk)

Emily Janoski-Haehlen, Akron (former Associate Dean, Akron)

Melanie Jacobs, Louisville (former Associate Dean, Michigan State)

Sudha Setty, CUNY (former Dean, Western New England)

Melanie Wilson. Washington & Lee (former Dean, Tennessee)

 

For the 2021 list, see 2021 New Women Law Deans, Gender & the Law Prof, which also includes some historic data and discussion.

See also Diversity Increases With Law School Deans, According to New Study

The number of women and people of color in law school dean positions is growing, but those hired through search firms were mostly white men, according to a new study released by the Association of American Law Schools.

 

The American Law School Dean Study surveyed 197 deans of ABA-accredited law schools and 222 former deans who served between 2010 and 2020. It was also compiled by the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago, also known as the NORC.

 

According to the study, released Tuesday, women headed 41% of law schools in 2020, compared to 18% in 2005. Also, 31% of the law schools in 2020 had deans who were people of color or Hispanic, compared to 13% in 2005.

 

According to the study, 18% of the law school deans in 2020 identified as Black or African American, and 6% identified as Hispanic or Latino. The number of law school deans who identify as American Indian, Alaska Native, Asian, Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander was also increasing, in small amounts, according to the study.

 

March 30, 2022 in Law schools, Women lawyers | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, March 14, 2022

Kinda Abdus-Saboor on "Lessons From Pandemic Pedagogy: Humanizing Law School Teaching to Create Equity and Evenness"

Kinda L. Abdus-Saboor has published Lessons from Pandemic Pedagogy: Humanizing Law School Teaching to Create Equity and Evenness in volume 69 of the Journal of Legal Education. The article concludes: 

This year has been rich with chaos and uncertainty. And yet, amid all of the chaos emerged the opportunity for a long-overdue shift in the law school classroom. The pandemic brought the discriminatory impact of law school policies to the forefront. It inspired dialogue about students’ challenges at home and raised concerns about students’ well-being. Essentially, it seems, the pandemic infused a humanistic, subjective undertone into an environment that is known for its thrashing, stoic, and unbothered overtones. Evenness and equity became a part of the lesson plan as we strive to embody the values of the often-misconstrued millennial worldview: a sense of entitlement to a better now and a better future with a gratitude for the progress that has been made thus far.

 

Through this evolving remote “pandemic pedagogy,” law schools around the country began to move toward equitable spaces in which the context of students’ learning mattered. While there are many aspects of the pandemic that we are in a hurry to leave behind, this redirection from tradition to equity should not be one of them. For if we always do what we have always done, then we will always be what we have always been. The legal profession has long been a white, male-dominated space. It is safe to say that it is about time to break the mold.

The essay is a thoughtful and reflective read. My favorite sentence from the essay is a simple, yet poignant, reminder that "we are not teaching things, we are teaching people." 

March 14, 2022 in Education, Law schools | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, February 28, 2022

Sonia Rankin on "Would You Make it to the Future? Teaching Race in an Assisted Reproductive Technologies and the Law Classroom"

Sonia M. Gipson Rankin has posted a forthcoming work titled Would You Make It to the Future? Teaching Race in an Assisted Reproductive Technologies and the Law Classroom on SSRN. This work is forthcoming in the Family Law Quarterly. The abstract previews: 

Would you make it to the future? For the last five years, I have started my Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) lecture in Family Law with this question. Students take the query seriously. They ponder their lived experiences such as home training, medical history, education, financial well-being, personality traits, work ethic, and social graces when determining if they would be the “model DNA” someone might select in a future society. The good-natured jokes about being nearsighted, having a pitiful jump shot, and wearing orthodontic headgear turn reflective when someone raises the question: would someone in the future select my race?

In this paper, Section I describes how race connects to family law. Section II explains cognitive dissonance theory, color blindness ideology, and the relationship of these theories to racial inequality in family law and how this connects to assisted reproductive technologies. Section III provides the framework for race-centered learning outcomes, a relevant rubric for reflection papers, and examples of case law and legislation that addresses race and ART. Section IV concludes by addressing how these skills and assessments in our family law curricula can impact systemic change in the practice of family law and the legal academy.

The article concludes: 

Legal education must be at the forefront of assisted reproductive technology. Our students will serve be crafters and litigators of ART contracts and decisions, policymakers and drafters of legislation, and will hold the hands of clients planning the biggest decisions of their futures. Showing students distinctions in family law shows the academy is responsive to realties in the practice of law. Race can serve as the first way to unpack cognitive dissonance. Professors must show the fallacies in the law so students can learn how to use their agency to critique the law and be excellent advocates for their clients. A racial cognitive dissonance lens allows students to review the impact of all the law, given the role of technology in the law that did not exist when the law was being formed. Understanding cognitive dissonance and cultural competency can help reduce legal issues in family law and ART.

A tagline for Gattaca [a "1997 science fiction film [depicting] a future society that uses reproductive technology and genetic engineering to produce genetically enhanced human beings"] states, “There is no gene for the human spirit.” There is a part of our lived journey that cannot be captured by DNA nor contract law but can only be bettered through our interactions with each other.

February 28, 2022 in Abortion, Conferences, Law schools, Pregnancy, Reproductive Rights, Science | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, February 23, 2022

Feminist Legal History and Legal Pedagogy

Paula Monopoli, Feminist Legal History and Legal Pedagogy, 108 Va. L. Rev. Online 91 (Feb. 17, 2022)

Women are mere trace elements in the traditional law school curriculum. They exist only on the margins of the canonical cases. Built on masculine norms, traditional modes of legal pedagogy involve appellate cases that overwhelmingly involve men as judges and advocates. The resulting silence signals that women are not makers of law—especially constitutional law. Teaching students critical modes of analysis like feminist legal theory and critical race feminism matters. But unmoored from feminist legal history, such critical theory is incomplete and far less persuasive. This Essay focuses on feminist legal history as foundational if students are to understand the implications of feminist legal theory. It offers several examples to illustrate how centering women and correcting their erasure from our constitutional memory is essential to educating future judges and advocates.

February 23, 2022 in Gender, Law schools, Legal History, Theory | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, February 1, 2022

Hierarchy, Race & Gender in Legal Scholarly Networks

Hierarchy, Race & Gender in Legal Scholarly Networks

Keerthana Nunna - University of Michigan Law School

W. Nicholson Price II - University of Michigan Law School

Jonathan Tietz - University of Michigan Law School

A potent myth of legal academic scholarship is that it is mostly meritocratic and that it is mostly solitary. Reality is more complicated. In this Article, we plumb the networks of knowledge co-production in legal academia by analyzing the star footnotes that appear at the beginning of most law review articles. Acknowledgements paint a rich picture of both the currency of scholarly credit and the relationships among scholars. Building on others’ prior work characterizing the potent impact of hierarchy, race, and gender in legal academia more generally, we examine the patterns of scholarly networks and probe the effects of those factors. The landscape we illustrate is depressingly unsurprising in basic contours but awash in details. Hierarchy, race, and gender all have substantial impacts on who gets acknowledged and how, what networks of knowledge co-production get formed, and who is helped on their path through the legal academic world.

The traditional myth is that legal scholarship is largely meritocratic and largely solitary. Under such a view, what gets you ahead is simply a good idea: a head-turning paper that generates a whirlwind of citations and chatter with its brilliance. Under such a view, demographic considerations like an author’s race, gender, and academic pedigree should matter little in the marketplace of ideas. That myth may comfort those who ended up atop the tower, but it is belied by reality. Hierarchy, race, and gender matter to a legal academic’s success; they matter to the acceptance of her ideas; they matter to her own experience. Against a rich backdrop of theoretical and qualitative work examining these issues, we present here a quantitative study of one way to observe the impact of hierarchy, race, and gender: the acknowledgements sections of law review footnotes, and what they can tell us about legal scholarly networks.

The author footnote—variously known as the star, dagger, biographical, vanity, or bug footnote—gives a peek into who contributed (nominally, at least) to the intellectual product that is the final, published law review article. They provide small, partial portraits of the author’s professional and social networks. Taken in the aggregate, these footnotes give a peek (cloudy, to be sure) into the underlying relationships, interactions, and social networks that make up legal academia. And we can examine that picture for signs of the impact of hierarchy, race, and gender to see whether they show up in a quantitatively observable fashion. (Spoiler alert: they do.)

Here, we examine the star footnotes for nearly 30,000 law review articles published in generalist law journals over about a decade. We probe who acknowledges whom; how school rank matters; and what racial and gender based disparities exist in who gets asked, or who gets credit (it’s hard to tell) for feedback in scholarly papers. Not to hide the ball: we find that authors tend to acknowledge scholars from peer schools, most of all their own school, but also to typically acknowledge folks from somewhat fancier schools. We find that men are acknowledged more than women and nonbinary scholars, and white scholars more than scholars of color. We examine intersectional effects, which are complex; read on to find out more. One bright spot here: networks of scholars of color appear to be particularly robust.

 

February 1, 2022 in Education, Gender, Law schools, Race, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, January 24, 2022

Indigenous Feminist Legal Pedagogies

Emily Snyder has published Indigenous Feminist Legal Pedagogies in volume 58 of the Osgoode Hall L. J. 369 (2021).  The abstract explains: 

What does “Indigenous feminist legal pedagogy” mean? This article takes up this inquiry through an analysis of interviews that were done with twenty-three professors who teach in the area of Indigenous law (Indigenous peoples’ own laws) in Canada. Overwhelmingly, the professors were on board with the idea that gender matters and that it needs to be included in education about Indigenous laws, but how people were taking up gender, and the responses as they relate to Indigenous feminisms, varied. The interviews signal that there is a need for ongoing work in the area of gender and feminisms in the field of Indigenous law. This article illustrates why gendering Indigenous legal education is vital and argues for increased engagement with the idea and practice of Indigenous feminist legal pedagogies.

January 24, 2022 in Law schools | Permalink | Comments (0)

Gender Pay Disparities in the Legal Academy

Christopher J. Ryan, Jr. & Meghan Dawe have published Mind the Gap: Gender Pay Disparities in the Legal Academy in Volume 34 of the Georgetown Journal of Legal Ethics. The authors conclude: 

The distribution of salaries of law professors in our analysis indicates that, of the 1,051 respondents who reported their earnings, 64.6 percent earn below $150,000 annually and 35.4 percent earned at above that threshold. Looking at the intersection of gender and race, we observe white women and women of color earned salaries of $150,000 or greater at far lower rates than white men, by nearly 15 percentage points and by 25 percentage points, respectively. In fact, on average, women of color and white women earn more than $24,000 and nearly $14,000 less than white men, respectively. Men of color earned salaries at or exceeding $150,000 at roughly comparable rates to white men, but on average, men of color earn more than $7,000 less than white men. 

* * *

A wealth of research has demonstrated that the gender wage gap in the legal profession is both pervasive and persistent. Our investigation of a rich and unique dataset of tenured law professors reveals gender stratification in the legal academy, clearly demonstrated by our finding that tenured women law professors—and especially women of color—receive lower compensation than their male colleagues. We find evidence that women law professors are very likely to earn lower salaries and additional income than men, even when they both enjoy the same protection of tenure. Moreover, we find that gendered earnings disparities are experienced more acutely by women of color. In addition to documenting that gendered earnings disparities exist, it is important to examine the mechanisms that underly these persistent forms of gender—and racialized—inequality. Our findings demonstrate the salience of human capital and social capital in mediating the relationship between gender and earnings in the legal academy.

January 24, 2022 in Equal Employment, Law schools, Workplace | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, January 17, 2022

Stereotypes, Sexism, and Superhuman Faculty

 Teneille R. Brown has posted Stereotypes, Sexism, and Superhuman Faculty on SSRN. This article is a preprint of a work forthcoming in volume 16 of the Florida International Law Review.  This is a powerful and personal read capturing many important takeaways of pandemic teaching as its hardships have mapped on to gender, race, and parental status. 

Despite our relative privilege, lawyers are not immune to the pandemic’s breathtaking ability to expose gender inequality. While working moms in other industries are afforded far fewer supports, and often cannot work from home, the lack of support offered by law schools and law firms has still been appalling. We risk losing much of the fragile equality we have won, as women scale back their pursuit of leadership positions, and have less focused time to spend researching cases, preparing for class, giving talks, or writing. The data are in: women lawyers’ productivity plummeted during the pandemic. This carried over to academic writing generally, where women’s submissions nosedived in the spring and summer. Women with children have lost 500 hours of research time, which makes them “disproportionately less likely to be promoted in rank and perhaps even more likely to drop out of academia altogether.” 

* * * 

As it might be clear by now, treating people as superhuman is an insidious and hollow form of adulation. Even though it seems positively valenced, it nonetheless reflects a form of dehumanization.  

 * * *  

Law faculty are not superhumans, and there is no virtue in regarding ourselves as such. We are individuals—empowered with the full range of complex thoughts and emotional vulnerabilities. This is not to say that all humans experience emotions to the same degree, or that we all draw from the same emotional depth or complexity. But for some, denying our emotional experience is a rejection of the self. Further, treating faculty as superhumans leads to workplace environments that are cold, uncaring, and discriminatory.

 

Unfortunately, the depth and complexity of the problem is disheartening, and there are no easy solutions. It is not enough to have women in leadership roles if those women espouse ambivalent sexism in their speech or policies. And it is not enough to respond to requests by working moms for accommodations, as those requests will often render those asking for them less competent. Research does suggest that women take less of a hit to their competence if they frame requests as advocating for others, and when they explicitly draw attention to sexist stereotypes. Thus, by making colleagues and administrators aware of the [Stereotype Content Model] and the deep social psychological roots of ambivalent sexism, we can begin to open their eyes. But because of the blow we take to competence when we mention our caregiving roles, professional women cannot make systemic change alone.

January 17, 2022 in Equal Employment, Family, Law schools, Women lawyers, Work/life | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, January 4, 2022

New Beginnings: A Feminist Evaluation of Gendered Stigma in the Modern Legal Profession

New Beginnings: A Feminist Evaluation of Gendered Stigma in the Modern Legal Profession

By: Amanda M. Fisher

Published in: Rutgers Journal of Law and Public Policy, Volume 19:1

The modern woman lawyer faces many of the same challenges that women in law faced during their earliest entry into the profession. While circumstances have certainly improved for women in law, gendered stigma is still prevalent in the profession. In this article, “gendered stigma” refers to circumstances resulting from one’s gender as a salient feature of their work, serving to discredit one’s abilities and accomplishments. Women began to enter the legal profession in large numbers in the 1970s, gaining attention as they did so. Although early research on women in the law focused on blatant discrimination, that type of discrimination is fortunately less common now. Much of the modern research addressing women’s status in the legal profession, however, focuses on the quantitative evidence, like the number of women in the profession and their salaries as compared to men. Numerical evidence does show progress, but qualitative evidence reveals that the gender-driven experiences of women new to the profession are eerily similar to those of women who have long retired from the profession. This belies the assumption that simply improving numbers, e.g., having more women in the profession, would solve the disparities between men and women who practice law. This article relies on identity theory and stigma to inform the cycle of gendered stigma prevalent in the legal profession to critically examine basic tenets of the profession that must change for progress to flourish. This theoretical foundation can then inform practical solutions for mitigating the negative effects of gendered stigma on the profession and the individuals serving within it.

January 4, 2022 in Gender, Law schools, Masculinities, Theory, Women lawyers, Work/life, Workplace | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, December 16, 2021

A Reassessment of the Use and Gender Politics of the Singular "They"

A Little Word That Means a Lot: A Reassessment of Singular "They" in a New Era of Gender Politics, Gender & Society (Nov. 20, 2021)

In 2019, Merriam-Webster named they its Word of the Year in recognition of the “surprising fact” that lookups had risen a remarkable 313% over the previous year. This surge of interest in singular they attests to the rising visibility of genderqueer, nonbinary, and trans activism in the United States. A 2018 survey found that a majority of Americans have heard about gender-neutral pronouns and that nearly twenty percent of Americans know someone who uses nonbinary personal pronouns. In recent years, gender-inclusive pronoun practices—including pronoun “go-rounds” and adding pronouns to email signatures—have been widely adopted on campuses and in workplaces, and new legal protections have been created to prevent misgendering with pronouns.

 

Skeptics dismiss these practices as a fad, but English speakers have been using the singular they in situations when a person’s gender was nonspecific or unknown for at least 600 years. Esteemed authors including William Shakespeare and Jane Austen used it unapologetically as an indefinite pronoun. Today, it likely would go unnoticed to hear someone exclaim, “That car just cut me off! They should learn to drive.”

 

In fact, the idea that singular they is ungrammatical was produced by a political campaign that began in the late eighteenth century. At that time, scholarly authorities insisted that singular he be used instead of singular they on the grounds that “the Masculine gender is more worthy than the Feminine, and the Feminine more worthy than the Neuter.” In promoting usage of he as a generic pronoun, grammarians sought to discredit competing options. They dismissed the paired binary term he or she as cumbersome and argued that singular they creates ambiguity about whether we are discussing one person or many. Of course, the generic he creates a parallel ambiguity with respect to gender, but they pushed this concern aside.***

 

Meanwhile, since the early 2010s, a new generation of language reformers, led by lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer/questioning and more (LGBTQ+) activists, has taken up the cause of singular they. These activists promote language practices that recognize people with nonbinary gender identities, incuding singular they used as a nonbinary personal pronoun. Using singular they as a nonbinary personal pronoun resists biological essentialism and affirms everyone’s right to determine their own gender identity.

 

Concomitantly, some people have advocated that singular they be used for everyone as a universal pronoun on the grounds that it is “inclusive and flexible” and protects people’s privacy, among other reasons. Yet, some transgender advocates  have objected to this proposal  arguing that denying gender recognition by avoiding gendering can be experienced as a form of violence. Finally, some people now use singular they as a default indefinite pronoun to refer to a person who is known but whose self-defined gender identity is not.

 

Our Gender & Society article, “A Little Word That Means A Lot: A Reassessment of Singular They in a New Era of Gender Politics,” considers how singular they can be used to resist and redo aspects of the prevailing gender structure. We identify three distinct usages of singular they: 1) as a nonbinary personal pronoun; 2) as a universal gender-neutral pronoun; and 3) as an indefinite pronoun when a person’s self-identified gender is unknown. While previous research has focused primarily on singular they as a nonbinary personal pronoun, our paper points to the importance of all three usages. We offer new insight into how nonbinary they challenges dominant gender norms and practices beyond incorporating additional gender categories. We propose further investigation of how using gender-neutral pronouns for everyone in specific contexts can advance progressive activists’ goals. Finally, we argue that the longstanding usage of singular they as an indefinite pronoun has new importance today in affirming gender as a self-determined identity.

 

Our analysis demonstrates that using singular they advances gender justice. Buying into the depoliticized grammar argument is not merely ahistorical but politically costly in the struggle for gender justice.

December 16, 2021 in Gender, Law schools, LGBT, Pop Culture | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, December 15, 2021

AALS Women in Legal Education Section Programming at 2022 Annual Meeting

From the WILE Newsletter h/t Susan Bisom-Rapp and Victoria Haneman.

WILE ANNUAL MEETING SCHEDULE AT A GLANCE (virtual conference)

◆ Wednesday, January 5, 12:35 - 1:50 pm Eastern: AALS Awards Ceremony (the inaugural Deborah L. Rhode Award will be presented to Professors Stacy Butler and Wendy Greene)

◆ Wednesday, January 5, 2:00 - 3:00 pm Eastern: WILE Networking Session

◆ Wednesday, January 5, 3:10 - 4:25 pm Eastern: Open Source Program on the Impact of Deborah Rhode (planned by Section on WILE, the Section on Professional Responsibility, Section on Pro Bono, Section on Leadership)

◆ Wednesday, January 5, 4:45 pm - 6:00 pm Eastern: WILE Works-in-Progress: Other Voices in Feminist Legal Theory

◆ Thursday, January 6, 12:35 - 1:50 pm Eastern: WILE Primary Program - Equality, Intersectionality, and Status in the Legal Academy

◆ Thursday, January 6, 2:00 - 3:00 pm Eastern: WILE Award Ceremony (the Ruth Bader Ginsburg Lifetime Achievement Award will be presented to LSAC Deputy for Legal and Global Higher Education Camille deJorna)

◆ Friday, January 7, 4:45 - 6:00 pm Eastern: Introducing and Supporting Intersectionality in Pedagogy

 

WILE kicks off the 2022 Annual Meeting at the AALS Awards Ceremony (Wednesday, January 5, 12:35 – 1:50 pm Eastern) during which the inaugural Deborah L. Rhode Award will be presented to Professors Stacy Butler (Arizona) and Wendy Greene (Drexel). The award, created by WILE and the Sections on Leadership, Professional Responsibility, and Pro Bono & Public Service, honors the contributions, service, and leadership of the late Deborah Rhode by recognizing new trailblazers in legal education and the legal profession. Professor Butler is being honored for founding and directing Innovation for Justice (i4J), a social justice-focused innovation lab. Professor Greene is being recognized for her scholarship, activism, and law reform work aimed at prohibiting race-based natural hair discrimination. I am grateful for the hard work of the award selection committee: Interim Dean Douglas Blaze (Tennessee), Professor Renee Knake Jefferson (Houston), Assistant Director Nadine Mompremier (Columbia), and Associate Dean Adrien Wing (Iowa).

Our second event is the WILE Section Networking Session (Wednesday, January 5, 2:00 – 3:00 pm Eastern), which will afford our members a chance to meet and learn in a more informal format. Thanks to WILE Secretary Victoria Haneman (Creighton) and Executive Committee member Milena Sterio (Cleveland-Marshall) for moderating that session. I encourage you all to attend this valuable session.

Following that session will be the Open Source Program – The Impact of Deborah Rhode (Wednesday, January 5, 3:10 – 4:25 pm Eastern) (Co-Sponsored by the Sections on Leadership, Professional Responsibility, Pro Bono & Public Service Opportunities, and WILE). A distinguished panel representing Deborah Rhode’s diverse interests has been assembled to reflect on her legacy and its impact on future projects and initiatives. The panelists are Professor Ben Barton (Tennessee), Dean Garry Jenkins (Minnesota), former Assistant Dean Tom Schoenherr (Fordham), and Associate Dean Adrien Wing (Iowa). Topics include Deborah Rhode’s impact on women and diversity in legal education, legal ethics, the imperative of pro bono within the legal academy and the profession, and leadership. Thanks to Lucy Ricca (Stanford), who is the Policy and Program Director at the Stanford Center on the Legal Profession, for expertly organizing and serving as moderator for the Open Source Program. Chair Elect Lisa Mazzie (Marquette) served on a multi-Section subcommittee, which selected the program’s speakers.

Our fourth program at the Annual Meeting is the WILE Works-in-Progress Session – Other Voices in Feminist Legal Theory (Wednesday, January 5, 4:45 – 6:00 pm Eastern). This program, based on a call for papers, focuses on the views of scholars whose work marks them as feminist legal theorists even if they have not traditionally been labeled as such. The scholars presenting work are: Noa Ben-Asher (Pace), Gender Identity, The New Legal Sex; Kim D. Ricardo (UIC), Comparative Study of Abortion Laws in Argentina and the United States; and Anna Offit (SMU), Benevolent Exclusion. Professor Bridget Crawford (Pace) is our discussant. The session moderator is Dean Lolita Buckner Inniss (Colorado). The session was organized by Dean Inniss (Colorado), Rachel Croskery-Roberts (UCI), Catherine Hardee (California Western), Fernanda Nicola (American), and Nancy Soonpaa (Texas Tech)

The following day, WILE hosts its primary program, Equality, Intersectionality, and Status in the Legal Academy (Thursday, January 6, 12:35 – 1:50 pm Eastern)(Co-Sponsored by the Section on Minority Groups, and the Section on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Issues). Based on a call for papers, this session will explore visible and invisible status distinctions in the legal academy, how people of color and women are affected by them, and whether various solutions can improve equality. Scholars presenting work are Angela Mae Kupenda (Mississippi College), Killing Me Softly with His Song, and Options toward Professing the Truth; Rachel Lopez (Drexel), Untitled: The Power of Designation in the Legal Academy; Shefali Milczarek-Desai & Sylvia Lett (Arizona), Flipping the Script: Two BIPOC Law Professors Embrace and Enunciate Difference to Further Equality in the Legal Academy; and Melissa Weresh (Drake), Hierarchy Maintained: Gender Inequity in the Legal Academy. As WILE Section Chair, Susan Bison-Rapp will moderate the session. The session was organized by WILE Chair Elect Lisa Mazzie (Marquette) along with Executive Committee members Naomi Cahn (Virginia), Rachel Croskery-Roberts (UCI), Rona Kaufman (Duquesne), Ashley London (Duquesne), Linda McClain (Boston), Nancy Soonpaa (Texas Tech), and Milena Sterio (Cleveland-Marshall).

Following immediately after the WILE primary program, the Section will host its Annual Ruth Bader Ginsburg Lifetime Achievement Award Ceremony (Thursday, January 6, 2:00 – 3:00 pm Eastern). Since 2013, WILE has given out a lifetime achievement award to an individual who has impacted women, the legal community, the academy, and the issues that affect women through mentoring, writing, speaking, activism, and providing opportunities to others. Our 2022 recipient is Camille deJorna, who serves as Deputy for Legal and Global Higher Education at the Law School Admissions Council (LSAC). Before that post, she served in a top role in the ABA’s Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar and oversaw the admissions and student affairs offices at several law schools, including Columbia, Hofstra, and the University of Iowa. She was selected by the WILE Executive Committee for her pathbreaking work on diversity and inclusion in the legal academy and profession. Special thanks to Dean Lolita Buckner Inniss (Colorado) for managing the nomination process and to Dean Tamara Lawson (St. Thomas) for providing the beautiful plaque for the occasion.


The Section’s seventh and final program is a session on pedagogy titled Introducing and Supporting Intersectionality in Pedagogy (Friday, January 7, 4:45 – 6:00 pm Eastern). Discussions related to gender, race, class, sexual orientation, age, immigration, and/or disability visibly shape the law and richly impact classroom outcomes. The goal of this session is to consider new pedagogical tools and ideas both for incorporating intersectional feminism into the law school classroom, and for exploring these ideas with faculty colleagues who may be resistant. Speakers include Jamie Abrams (Louisville), Bridget
Crawford (Pace), Teri McMurtry-Chubb (John Marshall), and Kathryn Stanchi (UNLV). Serving as commentators are Dean Angela Onwuachi-Willig (Boston) and Dean Sean Scott (California Western). WILE Secretary Victoria Haneman (Creighton) will moderate. Assisting Victoria Haneman (Creighton) in organizing the session were Executive Committee members Jill Engle (Penn State Law), Catherine Hardee (California Western), Fernanda Nicola (American), and Kerri Stone (Florida International).

 

December 15, 2021 in Conferences, Education, Law schools, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, December 7, 2021

Florida law school creates Ben Crump social justice center with goal of increasing racial and gender diversity in the profession

Florida law school creates Ben Crump social justice center

A South Florida law school on Thursday announced the creation of a social justice center named after Ben Crump, the Black civil rights attorney who has gained national prominence representing victims of police brutality and vigilante violence.

The Benjamin L. Crump Center for Social Justice, housed at the St. Thomas University College of Law in Miami Gardens, aims to nurture the next generation of civil rights lawyers while also pushing more racial and gender diversity in the legal profession, school officials told The Associated Press ahead of the announcement.

. . .

As a past president of the National Bar Association, the largest network of predominantly Black attorneys and judges, Crump said civil rights and social justice lawyering isn't seen as a lucrative area of practice for aspiring attorneys. He said he hopes that lending his name to the center inspires law school students to consider social justice as a worthy, career-long pursuit.

December 7, 2021 in Education, Gender, Law schools, Race | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, November 19, 2021

Feedback Bias in the Legal Profession

Latonia Haney Keith, Visible Invisibility: Feedback Bias in the Legal Profession, 23 J. Gender Race & Just. 315 (2020).

In this article, Vice President Latonia Haney Keith, highlights “feedback bias” as a contributing factor to “the legal profession [ ] ‘losing the war on retention [with] women and minorities leav[ing] the profession because they feel unprotected and undervalued.’”  Feedback bias refers to the phenomenon of “employers and educators reinforc[ing] and perpetuat[ing] bias, albeit unintentionally” when providing assessment and evaluations to employees and students.  The article highlights three cognitive biases that affect feedback and evaluating performance.  The three are “confirmation bias, in-group bias and availability heuristic.”  For example, in the confirmation bias context:

“[G]etting noticed as a leader in the workplace is more difficult for women than for men.”  This is the confirmation bias cycle at work.  When people are consistently exposed to leaders that fit a particular mold, they will continue to seek out or notice only those leaders who fit that same mold.  So, when evaluating the performance of a lawyer or law student, a supervisor’s or faculty’s preconceived notions will impact their evaluation.  If, for example, a preconception exists that males are assertive, it will be easier for a supervisor or faculty to recall instances in which a male employee or student asserted themselves in a meeting. Conversely, a supervisor or faculty may easily forget instances in which a female employer or student similarly asserted herself by, for example, suggesting an effective strategy or navigating a tough client interaction.

The article then goes into how these types of bias can manifest in feedback provided to employees and students.  “Women are for more likely to receive critical, subjective or vague feedback, and their performance is less likely to be attributed to their abilities and skills. . . . When women [do] receive[] more specific feedback, it [is] either tied to their caregiving abilities, attribute[] their accomplishments to teamwork rather than leadership or ‘overly focus[] on their communication style.’”  How do we move forward then?  Vice President Keith suggests a number of solutions, particularly in the context of law school feedback, including leveraging anonymous evaluation processes, incorporating objective measures and articulable rubrics, avoiding ambiguity, incorporating a broader group of reviewers, and increasing the frequency of evaluation among other best practices. 

November 19, 2021 in Equal Employment, Gender, Law schools, Women lawyers, Workplace | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, November 15, 2021

Critical Lawyering

Laila L. Hlass and Lindsay M. Harris have posted their article Critical Lawyering published in the 2021 volume of the Utah Law Review. The abstract previews the article's powerful contributions to pedagogy and theory.   

Critical lawyering—also at times called rebellious, community, and movement lawyering—attempts to further social justice alongside impacted communities. While much has been written about the contours of this form of lawyering and case examples illustrating core principles, little has been written about the mechanics of teaching critical lawyering skills. This Article seeks to expand critical lawyering theory, and in doing so, provide an example of a pedagogical approach to teaching what we term “critical interviewing.” Critical interviewing means using an intersectional lens to collaborate with clients, communities, interviewing partners, and interpreters in a legal interview. Critical interviewers identify and take into account historical and structural biases, privileges, and the role they play in the attorney-client relationship. This Article urges law professors and legal professionals to operationalize critical legal theories into practice, and ultimately to develop experiential pedagogies to teach these critical lawyering skills. This call to developing new pedagogies is particularly urgent in the wake of nationwide uprisings in response to the killing of George Floyd and others, as well as corresponding law schools’ commitments to identify and dismantle institutional racism. In this Article, we first set forth the contours of the canonical client interviewing pedagogy. Second, we outline the tenets of critical lawyering—a lawyering practice animated by critical legal theories. Next, we advance the pedagogy of critical interviewing, building upon client-centered lawyering texts. We describe one methodology of teaching critical interviewing: the Legal Interviewing and Language Access films. Ideally positioned to use with virtual, hybrid, or in person learning, these videos raise a multitude of issues, including addressing bias and collaborating with clinic partners, interpreters, and clients. Finally, the Article considers areas ripe for further exploration within critical interviewing, concluding with a call for engagement with new pedagogical tools to teach critical interviewing, along with other aspects of critical lawyering.

November 15, 2021 in Law schools, Race, Theory | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, November 5, 2021

LGBTQ+ Protections: Bostock's Implication for Public Schools

John Dayton and Micah Barry, LGBTQ+ Employment Protections: the U.S. Supreme Court’s Decision in Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia and the Implications for Public Schools, 35 Wis. J. L. Gender & Soc’y 115 (2020).

In this article Professors Dayton and Barry provide a history of LGBTQ+ discrimination and its impact in U.S. communities and schools, examine in depth the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Bostock v. Clayton County, and discuss the opinion’s implications for public educational institutions.  The article begins by recognizing “the central role employment plays in people’s lives . . . and the history of using employment discrimination to marginalize and harm vulnerable groups.”  It points out that “LGBTQ+ persons have been an especially vulnerable group, with laws in many states treating their LGBTQ+ status as a lawful basis for dismissal from employment” and that “the impacts of dismissal on their lives could be devastating.”

As is well known, the Bostock decision made clear that such discrimination in employment is illegal pursuant to Title VII.  Further, Professors Dayton and Barry argue, the decision “is likely to reach further than employment law and likely impact interpretations of Title IX.”  Thus, it has significant legal implications for public educational institutions.  As the article states:

Legal rights mean little, however, unless they are effectively translated from theory into practice.  Assuring non-discrimination for all LGBTQ+ persons in schools will require educational and cultural changes in schools, changes that are long overdue.  Public school officials would be wise to implement appropriate training and education programs for employees and students concerning LGBTQ+ rights and inclusion to assure legal compliance and that public schools are safe and welcoming places for everyone.

. . . [E]vidence suggests that awareness of protective workplace legislation decreases interpersonal discrimination against LGBTQ+ persons.  School officials must assure legal compliance, but school officials may also improve school culture by promoting equal rights and equal respect for all people.

In short public educational institutions, “must ensure that legally compliant polices are established, administered, and respected in their schools.”

November 5, 2021 in Education, Equal Employment, Gender, Law schools, LGBT, Workplace | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, November 4, 2021

Podcast: When Most of Law School Faculty Were Straight White Men, How Did Those Who Were Not Bring Change

ABA J Podcast, When Most of Law School Faculty Were Straight White Men, How Did Those Who Were Not Bring Change?, with Sean Scott and Joan Howarth.

In the late 1980s, law school groups for gay and lesbian students met off campus in case members didn’t want the school community to know their sexual orientation. And there were so few female faculty at law schools, if two or more were seen together talking, male faculty would ask what they were up to. So if they were actually up to something, such as persuading their dean to adopt a faculty parental leave policy that was longer than a few weeks, they would meet off campus, too.

November 4, 2021 in Equal Employment, Law schools, Workplace | Permalink | Comments (0)