The COVID care crisis and other multiplying effects of related shutdowns, embedded inequalities, and health and safety risks are likely disproportionately impacting people with caregiving responsibilities in academia. The division that separates work from home has collapsed, threatening the very notion of “work-life balance.” Increasingly, employers have begun to reshape what used to be the private domain of family and home through “work at home” or in-person presence requirements that disregard the ways in which care work happens.
Tuesday, September 14, 2021
By: Leslie Culver
Published in: Journal of Legal Education, Volume 69, Number 1 (Autumn 2019)
In this essay, I argue that viewing legal writing as a mode of gender sidelining uncovers the urgency for law schools to provide unitary tenure for legal writing programs across all law schools. I recognize that many legal writing faculty are employed under ABA Standard 405(c),4 a seemingly second-best option to traditional tenure tracks. As Professor Kathy Stanchi comments, however, while Standard 405(c) offers some respite from “job insecurity, intellectual disparagement, and pay inequity,” it ultimately serves as an “institutionalized bar to professional advancement divorced from any reasonable measure of merit.” This essay takes Stanchi’s framing of 405(c) as an irrational categorical exclusion of tenure despite meritorious performance, and extends her reasoning as further evidence of gender sidelining.
Well-established research, from both the ABA and legal scholars, demonstrates the longstanding marginalization and inequitable status of legal writing faculty within the academy. As evidence of this inequity, there has been a rise in conversion of legal writing programs to tenure-track positions. And this rise toward parity is the only systemic gesture that can combat the gendered barrier of white males who dominate the legal academy.
. . .
I recognize that the inequality facing legal writing faculty is not novel. However, as this essay suggests, a gender sidelining framework demonstrates the need for a creative resolve that is bigger than any single community. To start, the legal writing community can take steps toward elevating our discipline by providing fundamental training for practitioners and adjuncts seeking to become full-time legal writing faculty.14 For example, prospective faculty need training on how to effectively deliver job talks that both elevate the discipline of legal writing and inform the traditional podium faculty as to the pedagogy and the interdisciplinary and integral foundations of legal writing across other first-year courses. Further, junior faculty would benefit from education on the need for and the value of professional development by way of conference participation, scholarship, and organizational participation in the legal writing community and more.
Tuesday, August 31, 2021
By: David Grenardo
Professional identity formation, which involves teaching law students to recognize their responsibility to others, particularly clients, and encouraging the students to develop the professional competencies of a practicing lawyer, has gained considerable prominence in the legal academy. Professional identity formation relies on students to identify the professional competencies they excel in currently and the competencies in which they need to improve, and they must work to develop those competencies. Part of that process requires an accurate self-understanding of who law students are. The imposter syndrome serves as a sinister force that threatens a law student’s ability to develop her professional identity and to succeed as a lawyer. The pervasiveness and negative effects of the imposter syndrome warrant that law schools who incorporate professional identity formation into their curriculum, as well as any law school that wants its students to succeed, should address imposter syndrome with its students. Part I of this Article briefly discusses professional identity and how it requires self-reflection and self-awareness. Part II explains imposter syndrome in general, and Part III examines imposter syndrome and its prevalence in the legal profession. Part IV provides practical, tangible ways for law schools, professors, and law students to address imposter syndrome. This Article concludes that law schools, regardless of whether professional identity formation is a part of their curriculum yet, should help those law students facing imposter syndrome overcome it.
By: Ty Alper
Published in: Washington Law Review, Vol. 96, No. 1, 2021
Law faculty who teach and train students in clinical settings regularly expose students to the potential for sexual harassment. Because clinics involve actual cases in real-world contexts, students may encounter sexual harassment from third parties such as clients, witnesses, and judges. Do faculty who tolerate this exposure run afoul of their obligations under Title IX to stop and remedy sexual harassment about which they are, or should be, aware?
This Article is the first to identify and propose a method for addressing a phenomenon that strikes at the intersection of three sets of priorities for clinical faculty: duty to serve the client, duty to educate the student, and duty to protect the student. When a law student may face sexual harassment from a third party in the course of representing a client, the values underlying those priorities are in tension and admit no obvious solution; some remedies that Title IX arguably requires are, in many cases, impossible to square with the duties of loyalty and zealousness owed to a clinical client, not to mention the educational goals of the clinic. And yet, clinicians can and must embrace the fundamental principle of Title IX, which is to ensure that educational opportunities are available to all students, regardless of sex or gender presentation. The dilemma explored here echoes the modern American cultural, educational, and legal shift toward protecting students from speech and conduct deemed harmful, but does so in a non- classroom setting where legal ethics and clinical pedagogy are complicating factors.
Friday, August 27, 2021
Building Bridges: How Law Schools Can Better Prepare Students from Historically Underserved Communities to Excel in Law School
Amy H. Soled and Barbara Hoffman, Building Bridges: How Law Schools Can Better Prepare Students from Historically Underserved Communities to Excel in Law School, AALS Journal of Legal Education, Volume 69, Issue 2 (Winter 2020).
“As a poor, first-generation student, I constantly fear the judgment of my peers. . . . For me, the challenge of law school is not only overcoming the rigorous coursework. I must also overcome the social and financial barriers seeking to steer me away.” This reflection of a current Rugers Law School student, captured by Professors Amy Soled and Barabra Hoffman, is unfortunately an all-too-common sentiment for a number of students in your law school classrooms. Students who are members of historically underserved communities, those whose circumstances “disadvantage them in relation to their classmates whose privileged environment better prepare them for law school,” often find the law school challenging in more ways than just academic rigor. These students, who are historically underserved based on circumstances including but not limited to “economic status, race, nationality, sexual orientation, gender identity, and/or education background,” encounter “social and cultural isolation” in an environment that unconsciously or otherwise has “an invisible and assumed perspective that is largely white, male, heterosexual, economically advantaged, and able-bodied.” This isolation can lead to significant barriers to academic success in law school and ultimately passing the bar.
So what can we as legal educators do to address the needs of our students of different backgrounds and bridge this gap? Professors Soled and Hoffman suggest “[b]uilding bridges to enable students from historically underserved communities to thrive in law school requires law school professors and administrators to implement a multiyear plan from orientation through graduation.” This plan can include academic success programs starting in the summer before law school and extending through the entirety of the 1L year; creating mentoring programs of faculty, staff, and local practitioners; and fostering a sense of community in the classroom and beyond.
For example, professors can create community and inclusion by holding mandatory individual conferences once a semester, which creates a space for students to engage with the professor in a low-stakes one-on-one environment. “The more contact students have with their teachers, the better the students do and the more connected the students feel to their school.” Professors can also address the pervasive and insidious “imposter phenomenon” which describes students who are “unable to internalize [their] accomplishments [and have] chronic feelings of self-doubt and fear of being discovered” as a fraud. Students of historically underserved communities disproportionately experience this phenomenon. That is “[w]omen suffer from the imposter syndrome more commonly than do men, first-generation college students experience it more often than do multigeneration college students” etc. Professor can help by discussing this, and other common challenges, openly in their classrooms and student conferences.
These and many other concrete suggestions for building these bridges of success for historically underserved students are addressed in this article.
Monday, August 23, 2021
Do I Belong Here? Examining Perceived Experiences of Bias, Stereotype Concerns, and Sense of Belonging in U.S. Law Schools
Elizabeth Bodamer of the Law School Admission Council has published her recent work, Do I Belong Here? Examining Perceived Experiences of Bias, Stereotype Concerns, and Sense of Belonging in U.S. Law Schools, in volume 69 of the Journal of Legal Education. As many faculty return to classrooms for Fall 2021, this article is a powerful reminder about the role of all institutional players in cultivating a sense of belonging for our students.
This article uses the concept of sense of belonging to add to the ongoing conversation surrounding diversity and inequity in legal education through an examination of how students’ sense of belonging is influenced by perceived experiences of bias and stereotype concerns at the intersection of race and gender in a sample of seventeen U.S. law schools. Overall, my findings provide evidence that the educational experience in law school differs by race/gender. Specifically, this article shows that women of color are more likely to have a low sense of belonging compared with all other race-gender groups. Moreover, I find that perceived experiences of bias and students’ concerns about stereotypes associated with their social identity are pervasive in law school. Specifically, I find that minoritized students are more likely to perceive experiences of bias and stereotype concerns compared with their white male classmates. This finding is especially significant for women of color. Last, I find that these perceived experiences of bias and stereotype concerns are adversely and significantly associated with sense of belonging. Taken together, the results show that minoritized students—particularly women of color— must contend with marginalizing perceptions and concerns as they navigate through law school and negotiate their sense of belonging.
The article provides robust research on student belonging and offers a sweeping call to action in all facets of legal education.
Therefore, to effectively foster a sense of belonging, it is imperative to understand who are our students and their racial, ethnic, and gendered lived experiences during law school that affect their well-being, how they learn, and how they interact with others, including faculty. Deans, administrators, faculty, clinicians, career advisors, student affairs professionals, and future employers must take these findings into account in policies, strategic planning, hiring, pedagogy, mentorship, academic support programming, teaching of legal ethics, experiential learning opportunities, and access to other professional development opportunities, such as researching with faculty, clinics, internships, journal, and moot court.
Tuesday, August 10, 2021
We welcome Dean Brenda Bauges to our Editor Team here at the Gender & the Law Prof Blog.
Brenda Bauges, Associate Dean for Student Affairs and Inclusion, University of Idaho
Brenda Bauges graduated summa cum laude from both College of Idaho and University of Idaho College of Law. Professor Bauges began her career as a law clerk for the Honorable Karen Lansing of the Idaho Court of Appeals. She then joined Holland and Hart, LLP as a general litigation associate before spending six years in public service as a Deputy Attorney General and a Boise City Assistant Attorney. Professor Bauges spent a short time at a small law firm specializing in employment law before joining Concordia University School of Law as an assistant professor and Director of Externships and Pro Bono Programs, where she worked for two years. Professor Bauges has served on the governing boards of the Idaho Legal History Society, Idaho Women Lawyers, Attorneys for Civic Education, the Fourth District Pro Bono Committee, and St. Mark’s Home and School Association. In 2016, she earned distinction with the Idaho Business Review’s “Accomplished Under 40” award. She and her family are avid whitewater rafters and spend most of their summers enjoying Idaho’s wild and scenic rivers.
By: I. Bennet Capers
Published in: Minnesota Law Review, Vol. 106, 2021
In this moment when the country is undergoing a racial reckoning, when law schools have pledged to look inward and become anti-racist and truly inclusive, it is past time to acknowledge how law schools function as “white spaces.” For starters, there are the numbers. There is a reason why just a few years ago, The Washington Post ran a headline describing law as “the least diverse profession in the nation.” But the argument goes beyond numbers. This Essay argues that law schools—even law schools at HBCUs— function as white spaces. They are white spaces in what they teach, in how they teach, and even in their architecture.
. . .
Lani Guinier makes a similar observation in Becoming Gentlemen, in which she describes trying to find her voice in a room adorned by “the traditional larger-than-life portraits of white men . . . portraits that seemed to speak louder than I ever could.”She later adds that “the gigantic male portraits had captured and frozen in time the alienation from class, race, and gender privilege we had felt as students . . . reminding us that silence was the price of admission.”
. . .
It has now become common, almost de rigueur, for law schools to commit themselves to being anti-racist and truly inclusive. Indeed, it has become so expected that it may even seem like virtue signaling, “sound and fury, signifying nothing.” I hope not. I hope law schools are sincere. But my larger hope is that law schools will do more than simply proclaim a goal of anti-racism, or commit to admitting a more diverse student body or hiring more diverse faculty, or commit to incorporating race in their curricula. Even with these changes, law schools will still function as white spaces in terms of what is taught and how it is taught and even in terms of their architecture. My hope is that law schools will have the courage and audacity to reimagine themselves as a different kind of white space—a blank page, a tabula rasa—and to untether themselves from so much that weighs them down. That they will reinvent themselves from the bottom up in a way that is cosmopolitan and then some, as a place where intellectual curiosity thrives, where change and challenge are celebrated, where education itself is a practice of freedom, and where there is no need to tout inclusivity, because everyone already belongs.
Friday, August 6, 2021
In a matter of weeks we will find ourselves back in a familiar space, our classrooms. Will all our students, however, describe that space as familiar? How about inclusive, tolerant, and accepting?
In Fostering Equity and Inclusion Across the Gender Spectrum in the Law School Classroom, Professor Stevie Leahy discusses how recent Title VII caselaw has thrown into sharp focus the complexity of sex and gender dynamics in the law, which necessarily implicates our classrooms. As Professor Leahy states, “[i]n the past few decades, courts (and society) have increasingly grappled with sex and gender terminology, labeling, and identity beyond the traditional binary.” Although the latest Supreme Court opinions from last summer in this area operate under the binary definition of gender, Professor Leahy argues that the “functional outcome” is expanded protection for those individuals who identify outside that definition. Our classrooms, therefore, should do no less.
How can educators “follow the expansive spirit of the Title VII Trifecta”? Professor Leahy provides readers with concrete strategies including professors becoming familiar with the terms a student identifying outside the traditional binary may use to identify themselves and being aware of terminology in the classroom that tends to exclude nonbinary students. For example, professors can utilize gender-neutral titles like “Mx.” or “Counselor” in place of the traditional Mr./Ms. in classroom exchanges.
Professor Leahy points out that “[l]egal educators are well-positioned to model inclusive practices that will carry over into the legal field years beyond” law school. As the caselaw continues to evolve in this area, legal educators will increasingly be called to such modeling in the classroom in order to prepare the next generation of lawyers “for the realities of a workplace.”
Monday, August 2, 2021
Today Professor Jamie Abrams joins the Gender and Law Prof Blog team of editors. Professor Abrams has been a guest blogger in the past here at the blog, and we welcome her as a regular editor. Meet the rest of the new editors later this week
Professor Jamie Abrams, University of Louisville School of Law
Jamie R. Abrams teaches Torts, Family Law, Legislation, and Women and the Law. Her research focuses on reproductive and birthing decision-making, gendered violence, legal protections for immigrant victims of domestic violence, and legal education pedagogy. Her most recent publications include The Polarization of Reproductive Decision-Making and Parental Decision-Making forthcoming in the Florida State Law Review, The #MeToo Movement: A Feminist Invitation to Critique the Crisis Framing of Sexual Assault Responses published in the University of Richmond Law Review (2018), and Experiential Learning in the Era of Donald Trump published in the Duquesne Law Review (2017). A full collection of her publications is available below.
Professor Abrams was awarded the University of Louisville Brandeis School of Law's Teacher of the Year Award in 2016 and the University of Louisville's Presidential Multicultural Teaching Award in 2014 for her demonstrated commitment to teaching, research, and service that integrate diverse perspectives. She also received the 2011 Innovations in Teaching Award from the American University Washington College of Law for her work spearheading an integrated curriculum skills simulation for 1Ls. She was also awarded the Mussey-Gillett Shining Star Award from the District of Columbia's Women's Bar Association for her work co-authoring reports on the status of women and women of color in the legal profession as part of the WBA's nationally recognized Initiative on Advancement and Retention of Women.
Professor Abrams previously taught at Hofstra University School of Law and American University Washington College of Law. She was a visiting faculty member during the 2017-2018 Academic Year at the Georgetown University Law Center in Washington, D.C. where she taught Legal Practice: Writing and Analysis; Family Law II: Parent, Child, and State; and a Law Fellow Seminar. She has also been a visiting professor at the University of Turku in Finland teaching State Regulation of the Family and a visiting scholar at the University of Leeds researching the relationship between parental decision-making and reproductive decision-making.
In 2014, she co-founded the Brandeis Human Rights Advocacy Program, which works actively with other nonprofits and stakeholders in the community to advance the human rights of immigrants, refugees and noncitizens. She co-directed the program from 2014-2017. During her time with the program, it published a community resource guide, a comprehensive community needs assessment, and separate reports on educational access, language access, and media rhetoric studying how these topics impact the Kentucky immigrant/noncitizen/refugee immigrant community.
Before entering law teaching, she worked as a Litigation Associate at Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP where she specialized in complex civil litigation matters. She began her career at Beveridge & Diamond, P.C., specializing in white collar criminal defense and environmental law. She received her LL.M from Columbia University and her J.D. from the American University Washington College of Law, receiving the highest academic honors from both institutions. She received her B.A. from Indiana University–Bloomington.
As we prepare to return to the classroom in Fall 2021, I offer a short reflection after reading the book What Inclusive Instructors Do by Tracie Marcella Addy, Derek Dube, Khadijah A. Mitchell, and Mallory E. SoRelle (2021). This book is a great read to re-ignite Fall class preparation after many months of fatigue and burnout from the challenges of COVID transitions. This book compiles faculty interviews describing both what inclusive teaching is and how to achieve it. It teaches us that inclusive teaching is something that can be learned, cultivated, and measured.
The book gives two simple messages defining inclusive teaching – inclusive teaching is equitable and it is welcoming. Inclusive teachers are accountable for the learning environments they cultivate. They learn about their students. They care for the student’s well-being. They adapt to feedback about their classroom environment. Inclusive institutions and classrooms cannot be achieved by diversity professional alone, by hired speakers, or by robust elective courses. Rather, inclusive classrooms are contextually situated in an environment within a larger institution. Those larger environments have their own hierarchies, biases, and entrenched power structures that need to be contested.
The book’s lessons are powerful for law faculty as law teaching strikes me as acutely plagued by a deep reverence to preserving the status quo by recreating how we were taught. This book is a great springboard for organizing learning circles, hosting faculty workshops, and developing best practices institutionally. It would be great to see these themes carried into law with a conference or book volume compiling applications of inclusive teaching methodologies and techniques in law schools.
Far too often law schools expect isolated classes, faculty, and student groups to lead the way on diversity, equity, and inclusion. The book’s message is unequivocal that “inclusive teaching is the collective responsibility of all those members of the institutions who contribute to the institutional mission around teaching and learning.” This is an important area of reflection for law schools. Many existing approaches to equity and inclusion seek to achieve bold goals with incremental approaches and siloed accountability. Law schools tend to segment diversity and inclusion with student services, admissions, and dedicated staff, leaving the full faculty generally immunized from accountability for building an equitable and inclusive institution. This segmentation is misaligned with student experiences and ignores the longstanding calls for systemic reform to the architectural core of legal education.
This book is a powerful call to action. It left me energized with new ideas and empowered to teach with a bolder vision for cultivating an inclusive learning environment.
Monday, June 14, 2021
Rachel Lopez, Unentitled: The Power of Designation in the Legal Academy, 73 Rutgers L. Rev. 101 (2021)
Last December, the Wall Street Journal published an op-ed that questioned whether Dr. Jill Biden should more appropriately be addressed as Madame First Lady, Mrs. Biden, Jill, or even kiddo, characterizing her desire to be called doctor “fraudulent” and a “touch comic.” Many were understandably outraged by the lack of respect afforded to Dr. Biden, which had a distinctly gendered dimension. More recently, after a controversial decision by the University of North Carolina’s board of trustees to deny her tenure, Nikole Hannah-Jones, a Pulitzer Prize and MacArthur “genius grant” winner, was instead appointed as a “Professor of Practice” on a five year fixed term contract. These high-profile examples put in sharp focus what many women of color in the legal academy already know all too well: labels have an innate power to confer or diminish status. This Essay explores the role that titles play in the legal academy and, in particular, their often depreciative consequences for women of color. Drawing from my story, those relayed to me by others, and other empirical evidence, I will show how titles perpetuate stereotypes and entrench existing racial and gender hierarchies in the legal academy, although they appear race- and gender- neutral.
It is no secret that the legal academy is extraordinarily hierarchical, with women and people of color often populating the lower ranks of the totem pole. There is a stinging irony to this. As Ruth Gordon eloquently put it, “many of us spend our professional lives contesting hierarchy and exclusion—whether on the basis of race, gender, or class—but when it comes to academia—and I would suggest especially legal academia—we appear to have finally found a hierarchy we can believe in.” There is a problem of academic exceptionalism in the legal academy—hierarchy and exclusion are others’ problems, not our own.
Labels, in the form of titles, help cement these disparities, concretizing them into a caste system that justify unequal pay, less power in faculty governance, and, at times, abusive behavior. While doctrinal professors are “Professors of Law,” the academic archetype, the legal academy has developed a virtual cottage industry of other professional designations. These titles denote “the other teachers” in the legal academy: Clinical Professor, Professor of Practice, Teaching Professor, and Legal Writing Instructor, to name a few. The message is that “Professors of Law” are the ones who really teach the law, while those with the other titles teach something else less important.
If law schools truly aspire to be anti-racist institutions, as so many have pledged to be, we must acknowledge and hopefully someday soon address the racial and gendered (often intersectional) dynamics of titles in the legal academy.
Tuesday, June 8, 2021
Laura Padilla, Women Law Deans, Gender Sidelining, and Presumptions of Incompetence, 35 Berkeley J. Law & Gender 1 (2021)
In 2007, I wrote A Gendered Update on Women Law Deans: Who, Where, Why, and Why Not? which examined the number of women law deans, including women of color, their paths to deanships, and what the future might hold for decanal leadership from a gendered and racialized lens. A Gendered Update reported that in the 2005 2006 period, thirty one law deans at the 166 Association of American Law Schools (“AALS”) member schools were women (18.7%). Only three of the thirty-one women law deans were women of color (1.8%).***
This Article starts with updated data on the number of women law deans, including women of color, and demonstrates increased numbers of both women and women of color in deanships. It then shifts to plausible explanations for this growth: some optimistic and some more skeptical. On the positive side, it is logical that new appointments reflect women’s increased representation in the broader legal population, which serves as the source of most new dean hires. In addition, there seems to be some recognition that women bring something new and different to leadership: a greater willingness to change, be flexible, and approach old problems in new ways. On the other hand, running a law school has become more challenging because of a decline in applications and credentials since 2011, which has translated into smaller classes and budgets, voluntary and involuntary layoffs, more work, and less pay. It may be no coincidence that as the job became less desirable, women were appointed in greater numbers.
Next, this Article provides narrative descriptions of women’s experiences in leadership, including experiences unique to women of color, such as common stories of presumptions of incompetence, and gender sidelining. The stories are culled from surveys sent to all women law deans. The survey responses reveal challenges in leadership roles, risks taken, and battles won and lost, and display increased obstacles for women of color.
The next Part of this Article develops ideas on how to continue increasing the number of women law deans and provide them support for success
Friday, June 4, 2021
Jamie Abrams, Feminist Pedagogy in Legal Education, Oxford Handbook of Feminism and Law in the United States, Oxford University Press, 2021 Forthcoming
This chapter, which will appear in the Oxford Handbook of Feminism and Law in the United States (Deborah Brake, Martha Chamallas & Verna Williams, eds.), 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.
Monday, May 17, 2021
Updated again: May 17, 2021
It's that time of year again for Gender & Law-Prof Blog's annual list of women law deans. Updates as new announcements are made.
Mary Davis (Kentucky, Interim Dean), Kentucky
Darby Dickerson, (Dean, UIC John Marshall), Southwestern
Jelani Jefferson Exum, (Detroit Mercy), Detroit Mercy
Linda Greene (Wisconsin), Michigan State
Lolita Buckner Inniss, (Associate Dean, SMU), Colorado
Johanna Kalb (Loyola NO, Associate Dean), Idaho
Hari Osofsky (Dean, Penn State), Northwestern
LaVonda Reed, (Associate Provost, Syracuse) Georgia State
Amelia Smith Rinehart (Utah, Associate Dean), West Virginia
Forty-four percent of these new women deans (4/9) are people of color.
Women represent 57% (9/16) of new dean appointments this term.
For additional analysis, see:
Karen Sloan, It's the Moment for This: An e for This: An Unprecedented Number of Black Women are Leading Law Schools ("By fall, 14% of law schools will have Black women in the Dean's suite.")
Karen Sloane, Meet the Record-Setting Number of Incoming Women Law Deans (2019)
National Law Journal, Incoming Batch of Law Deans Is More Diverse Than Ever (2019)
Michelle Benedetto Neitz, Pulling Back the Curtain: Implicit Bias in the Law School Dean Search Process, Seton Hall L. Rev.
Tuesday, January 12, 2021
Symposium, COVID Care Crisis, Jan. 14 & 15 (Zoom) (registration free)
At the same time, schools and other institutions providing support to families and marginalized groups are temporarily closed, permanently shutting down, or buckling in response to state or local mandates as well as financial and personnel pressures.
In the months since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, women’s scholarly output and publications have dropped in various disciplines, while service and care responsibilities that fall disproportionately on junior or marginalized faculty and staff have likely increased. Compounding these pressures, Black faculty and faculty of color more generally have also been coping with the emotional effects of the police killings of George Floyd and others, at the same time that COVID-19’s health effects are concentrating along lines of race and inequality in these communities specifically. All of these factors threaten the output, visibility, status and participation of women and other primary caregiving faculty and staff in legal academia.
Left unaddressed, these disparities also have the potential to alter the landscape of legal academia and further marginalize women and the perspectives they bring to legal scholarship, education, and public dialogue. This symposium seeks to raise awareness of the current COVID care crisis and its impacts on academia, and to begin a dialogue on concrete and innovative responses to this crisis.
I enjoyed hearing about this new book at the AALS conference this year. Understanding the history, and discrimination of women law professors from those featured in the book and on the panel was interesting if also frustrating.
Herma Hill Kay, Paving the Way: The First American Women Law Professors, edited by Patricia Cain (forthcoming April 2021, U California Press)
Book Blurb: When it comes to breaking down barriers for women in the workplace, Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s name speaks volumes for itself—but, as she clarifies in the foreword to this long-awaited book, there are too many trailblazing names we do not know. Herma Hill Kay, former Dean of UC Berkeley School of Law and Ginsburg’s closest professional colleague, wrote Paving the Way to tell the stories of the first fourteen female law professors at ABA- and AALS-accredited law schools in the United States. Kay, who became the fifteenth such professor, labored over the stories of these women in order to provide an essential history of their path for the more than 2,000 women working as law professors today and all of their feminist colleagues.
Because Herma Hill Kay, who died in 2017, was able to obtain so much first-hand information about the fourteen women who preceded her, Paving the Way is filled with details, quiet and loud, of each of their lives and careers from their own perspectives. Kay wraps each story in rich historical context, lest we forget the extraordinarily difficult times in which these women lived
The point made by Melissa Murray was also well taken that the limitations of this study, focused as it was on ABA accredited and AALS schools, omitted many important women of color who taught at other institutions. For an earlier post about one of these women, Lutie Lytle, see The Story of the First Woman -- and the First Black Woman -- Law Professor, Lutie Lytle (2/1/2019)
Wednesday, October 21, 2020
Equal Pay Lawsuits by Women Law Professors Allege Significant Continuing Gender Discrimination in Academia
*** Linda Mullenix’s annual salary, however, is at least $31,000 less than three male law professors at her school. Like Mullenix, some of these male professors teach civil procedure. However, they have had shorter careers and fewer publications than she has, and for the most part, similar student evaluations, according to the Equal Pay Act lawsuit she filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas in December 2019. The complaint also alleged sex discrimination and retaliation under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Additionally, she alleged her raise for the 2018-2019 academic year was only $1,500, while other UT law professors with fewer accomplishments received $10,000 raises.
And this is not the first time Mullenix has complained to the university about compensation issues. In 2011, she retained counsel and sent a demand letter asserting an equal pay claim after she discovered a male professor with less experience annually earned $50,000 more than she did. Eight years later, that pay gap had decreased—by $17; that professor now earns $49,983 more than Mullenix, per her 2019 lawsuit. As a result of her actions, she has been described as “poison” by school administrators, according to the complaint, because she repeatedly speaks out about pay inequity at the law school.
In May, a Texas federal judge granted the university’s motion to partially dismiss Mullenix’s lawsuit on the basis that she failed to allege a causal connection between her pay complaints and receiving the lowest raise of any law school faculty member. The order dismissed Mullenix’s Title VII retaliation claim; her Equal Pay Act and sex discrimination claims are ongoing.
Mullenix’s lawyer, Colin Walsh of the Austin firm Wiley Walsh, told the ABA Journal he will continue with her Title VII discrimination and Equal Pay Act claims and looks forward to entering the discovery phase. Meanwhile, a spokesman for the university told the Journal the institution “strongly supports” equal pay based on merit and performance, and it has done work to ensure salary equity for faculty members. Law school faculty pay, he wrote in an email, is decided by “a committee review of teaching, service and scholarship with professional criteria applied to make these determinations.”
At least five equal pay lawsuits have been filed by female law professors since 2016; the actions involve four schools. One of those schools has been sued more than once, and three of the lawsuits remain open.
Although law schools may rely on several factors in determining compensation, in actuality, law school deans often have significant discretion in deciding what to pay professors, and their unchecked decisions can be tainted by gender bias, according to lawyers interviewed by the ABA Journal. Salaries, raises and appointments should be based on teaching, service and scholarship. But dean evaluations in those areas can be biased as well, some say, with men getting better appointments and more respect for their research and writing, with little regard for the work’s quality and importance.
Moreover, professors who have filed Equal Pay Act claims have seen their careers impacted in other ways. For instance, more than one used the word “poison” to describe how they were viewed after confronting law school leadership with discrimination concerns. Others found themselves removed from important faculty committee assignments (a factor used in determining pay) and put on “‘do nothing’ committees.”
Walsh says pay discrimination against women is just as much of a problem in the law schools as it is in the private sector.
“It may be a bit worse because of instances of institutional misogyny. Any place you have a large contingency of older white men, you’re going to have a pay gap,” Walsh adds.
In all of the Equal Pay Act lawsuits, plaintiffs say they were treated worse by the schools after suing.
See also Chronicle of Higher Ed, A Raft of Pay-Gap Lawsuits Suggests Little Progress for Academic Women
Last week, five female professors at Rutgers University filed a lawsuit in state court accusing their institution of paying them tens of thousands of dollars less than their male colleagues. Days earlier, Princeton University agreed to a settlement, worth nearly $1.2 million, after a U.S. Department of Labor review found that 106 female full professors had been paid less than their male counterparts between 2012 and 2014. And in September, four female professors at Northern Michigan University settled their own pay-discrimination lawsuit for $1.46 million.
The University of Arizona resolved a pair of similar cases in 2019, doling out $190,000 to a trio of female former deans and $100,000 to an associate professor, all of whom alleged they’d been underpaid. And the University of Denver settled in 2018 with seven female law professors to the tune of $2.66 million.
To understand the raft of pay-discrimination lawsuits, The Chronicle spoke to Jennifer A. Reisch, who represented the lead plaintiff in the Denver case and argued on behalf of a professor at the University of Oregon who awaits a ruling on her own gender-discrimination case
Tuesday, October 13, 2020
Study Documents Gender Pay Disparities Among Tenured Law Faculty, Particularly Acute for Women of Color
CJ Ryan & Meghan Dawe, Mind the Gap: Gender Pay Disparities in the Legal Academy, Georgetown J. Legal Ethics (forthcoming)
Differences in pay between women and men in the same jobs have captured the public’s attention in recent years. However, public interest in and press coverage of salary differences on the basis of gender—or any other ascriptive class—in the learned professions are wanting. Moreover, few studies have spoken directly on the gender pay disparities in the legal academy, despite emerging evidence of it at multiple law schools. In this Article, we use a unique dataset, drawn from the only nationally representative survey to date of tenured law professors in the United States, to track how gender and race are tied to salary outcomes. But we look beyond the raw differences in salary, probing the mechanisms that undergird gendered pay inequities.
Part I of this Article introduces the concepts of human capital and social capital as important factors underpinning inequalities in outcomes for the legal profession. We then provide an overview of how careers in law—and particularly in the legal academy—are stratified by access to social capital and returns to human capital. In Part II, we introduce the After Tenure survey, from which our data originate. Next, we describe our analytical approach, examining the demography of the legal academy and the legal profession more broadly to discuss the ways in which law professors experience their jobs differently along lines of gender and race. In Part III, we provide evidence of gendered earnings disparities among tenured law professors that is particularly acute for women of color. We conclude by demonstrating how these disparities stem from the differential valuation of human capital.,
Monday, September 28, 2020
Melanie Wilson, A Reckoning Over Law Faculty Inequality, 98 Denver L.Rev. (2020)
In this review, I examine Dr. Meera E. Deo’s book, Unequal Profession: Race and Gender in Legal Academia, published last year by Stanford University Press. In Unequal Profession, Deo, an expert on institutional diversity, presents findings from a first-of-its-kind empirical study, documenting many of the challenges women of color law faculty confront daily in legal academia. Deo uses memorable quotes and powerful stories from the study’s faculty participants to present her important work in 169 readable and revealing pages. Unequal Profession begins by outlining the barriers women of color face when entering law teaching and progresses through the life cycle of the law professor (including the treacherous tenure process). It covers leadership, before concluding with work-life balance.
Unequal Profession is especially timely and important. In the wake of George Floyd’s death and the national outrage it ignited, law schools denounced racism and vowed to take concrete, anti-racist steps to improve society, the legal profession, and law schools themselves. Many law faculties committed to hiring and retaining more underrepresented faculty colleagues and, correspondingly, to attracting a more diverse student body. If law schools are serious about changing, then they should read Unequal Profession. As this review demonstrates, Unequal Profession is a definitive resource for improving inequality in legal education.
Tuesday, September 22, 2020
Symposium, Fri. Sept. 25, Two Centuries of the Equal Rights Amendment, University of Florida School of Law
Please join scholars, legislators, and practitioners on Friday, September 25 for the Symposium, Two Centuries of the Equal Rights Amendment. This Symposium addresses many questions left unanswered after the recent ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment by Virginia. It has taken 97 years for the ERA to meet the technical requirements of Article V. But will it take its rightful place as the Twenty-Eighth Amendment? And will it be Congress, or the courts, that make it happen?
Please visit the Symposium website for a detailed schedule. This Symposium may be attended on a per panel basis and is free and open to the public. Please register to receive the Zoom link and Outlook invitation. 6.5 Florida CLEs pending.