Monday, January 24, 2022
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.
Monday, January 17, 2022
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.
Tuesday, January 4, 2022
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.
Thursday, December 16, 2021
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.
Wednesday, December 15, 2021
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).
Tuesday, December 7, 2021
Florida law school creates Ben Crump social justice center with goal of increasing racial and gender diversity in the profession
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.
Friday, November 19, 2021
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.
Monday, November 15, 2021
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.
Friday, November 5, 2021
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.”
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.
Wednesday, October 20, 2021
Meera Deo, Director's Message:
It is with great pride and pleasure that I share the 2019 Annual Results, which is the first LSSSE publication dedicated to gender. To date, few researchers have studied the background of women entering legal education, their success in law school, or the barriers that women law students overcome. ***
Past Annual Results have highlighted similarities and differences based on gender, with regard to debt load, scholarships, and career expectations/preferences, to name just a few. Yet, this LSSSE publication devoted entirely to gender arrives at an opportune time. With increasing numbers of women in law school, policymakers and the general public might assume that gender is a non-issue, that the experiences of women and men are roughly the same, or that gender disparities are a thing of the past. Regrettably, LSSSE data confirm that none of these myths represent the current state of women in legal education. As with faculty diversity, increased numbers do not translate directly into improved experiences.***
Overall, this report reveals that women as a whole are succeeding along various metrics ranging from academic performance to student engagement. These achievements are especially impressive given the background demographics of women law students today, many of whom enter law school with fewer resources than their male classmates. In spite of these accomplishments, there is room for improvement. Especially given how hard women law students work and the sacrifices they make to excel, we owe them greater support.
Foreword, Deborah Jones Merrit
Why do gender differences in legal education persist? Scholars often point to women’s heavier family responsibilities. This LSSSE report, however, undercuts that explanation. Eleven percent of women law students report that they spend more than 20 hours a week caring for dependents—but so do 8.6% of men students. Family commitments may explain some of the gender gap in legal education, but they do not tell the whole story.
Instead, as this report suggests, law schools must question their own practices. Do admissions offices place too much weight on LSAT scores (which favor men) rather than undergraduate grades (which favor women)? Do women receive as much scholarship money as men? Do traditional classroom pedagogies discourage women’s participation? Do institutional support measures target men more effectively than women? More transparent data could help answer some of these questions.
Gathering data and addressing these questions would benefit women of all races and ethnicities; the gender gaps identified in this report cut across those lines. Promoting gender equity could also help law schools attract and support first-generation students. As this report notes, women currently outnumber men in that category.
Despite their burdens, women achieve marked success in law school. Among LSSSE respondents, women’s reported grades exceed those of men overall—as well as within each racial or ethnic group. Four-fifths of women, moreover, rate their law school experience as “Good” or “Excellent.” These outcomes are worth celebrating, but they do not guarantee gender equity. Law schools must build on their progress to give women the same economic opportunities as men and to make them fully at home in the classroom.
Tuesday, October 12, 2021
By: Meera Deo
Published in: Rutgers Law Review, Vol. 73, No. 3, 2021
This Essay initiates the Rutgers Law Review symposium, "Taking Our Space: Women of Color and Antiracism in Legal Academia," a collection of essays inspired by my book, Unequal Profession: Race and Gender in Legal Academia (Stanford University Press, 2019). After briefly tracing the origins of the book project, I focus on five themes that outline responses as well as updates to Unequal Profession: (1) claiming my worth; (2) jumping on the bandwagon; (3) centering structural solutions; (4) being part of the solution—not the solution; and (5) understanding pandemic effects on legal academia. Together, these themes reveal the depth and difficulty of the work that the legal academy must take on in order to move our profession closer to equity.
The five themes presented here are insights I have gleaned along the way since Unequal Profession was published. Just as a qualitative researcher draws out patterns and observations from the data, I have performed some preliminary analyses on two-plus years’ worth of responses to Unequal Profession, as well as crafted a brief update on how various events of this past unfathomable year exacerbate raceXgender biases in legal academia. I share these observations so that aspiring authors, current academics, allies in practice, and administrative leaders can work together with me to craft a more equal profession. As the five themes outlined here demonstrate, achieving a more equal profession involves working not only to address naysayers, whose implicit and explicit biases may reinforce inequities, but also for each one of us to critically reflect on our own individual prejudices and opportunities for improvement.
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.”