Monday, January 17, 2022

Stereotypes, Sexism, and Superhuman Faculty

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

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

* * * 

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

 * * *  

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

 

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

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

Tuesday, January 4, 2022

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

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

By: Amanda M. Fisher

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

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

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

Tuesday, December 14, 2021

Gender Gap Among Arguing Attorneys at 7th Circuit Has Barely Improved in Last Decade, Study Says

Gender Gap Among Arguing Attorneys at 7th Circuit Has Barely Improved in Last Decade, Study Says

Find the original ABA Report here: How Unappealing: An Empirical Analysis of the Gender Gap among Appellate Attorneys

The number of male attorneys arguing at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit continues to greatly surpass women, according to a study published by the American Bar Association this week.

The study’s authors, Seventh Circuit Judge Amy J. St. Eve and Munger, Tolles & Olson associate Jamie Luguri, found that women represented 24% of attorneys who argued before the Chicago, Illinois-based federal appeals court in 2009. In 2019, the percentage rose only slightly to 28%.

“If the rate of change remains constant, it will be another four decades before half of all attorneys arguing before the court are women,” the authors wrote.

Despite women and men entering the legal profession in equal numbers, the gender gap among arguing attorneys has been widely reported across the country, including the U.S. Supreme Court.

But St. Eve and Luguri looked at a number of other factors that influence the size of the gap, such as the nature of the case, the client represented and the attorney’s practice setting.

They found that women argued at lower rates in civil cases compared to cases involving the government. In 2019, women comprised 24% of all attorneys arguing in civil cases at the Seventh Circuit and 33% in criminal cases.

Even among civil litigation, the gender disparity was more pronounced in some areas than others. Complex civil matters—such as antitrust and insurance cases—had a lower percentage of women arguing, according to the study.

The authors attributed the slight increase in women taking the lead in oral arguments at the Seventh Circuit to the federal government’s improved pipeline of female attorneys over the past decade. In 2019, 40% of all attorneys who represented federal, state or local governments were women, compared to 32% in 2009. Meanwhile, only 22% of attorneys for non-governmental clients were women.

“While the number of women who argued appellate cases on behalf of federal and local governments increased significantly in the last decade, the number of women who had that role for non-government clients remained relatively stagnant,” the report says.

Possible solutions to closing the gap can start in law school, the authors wrote. They recommended that faculty encourage women to apply to federal appellate court clerkships and provide opportunities for students to join appellate advocacy clinics.

Law firms, for their part, should help associates—who are largely women—get oral argument experience by letting them argue cases where the firm was court-appointed. Law firms should also encourage female associates to take pro bono work, and senior attorneys should split their allotted argument time with associates, St. Eve and Luguri said. Holding leadership positions can help women attorneys gain credibility and experience too, they added.

“Across all these domains, a clear picture has emerged: the pipeline is leaking. Law schools, firms, corporate clients, and courts all have a role to play in fixing those leaks, and we have outlined concrete steps that each can take to increase the number of women arguing in front of appellate courts,” they wrote. “It is our hope that these suggestions for change mean that the next decade will bring more progress than the last.”

December 14, 2021 in Gender, Women lawyers | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, December 3, 2021

Sexual Harassment in the Workplace - Intersectionality's Role

Jamillah Bowman Williams, Maximizing #MeToo: Intersectionality & the Movement, 62 B.C. L. Rev. 1797 (2021).

This article addresses the intersectionality of identities in the context of sexual harassment, and how the failure to recognize the impact of this intersection results in responses to sexual harassment in the workplace that do not adequately protect women of color.  “Given the high rate at which women of color experience harassment and assault, the unique types of racialized sex harassment they experience, and the compounded forms of structural disadvantage they face in a range of domains, it is particularly important for anti-discrimination law to address their concerns.”  This is because, “the intersectional experience is greater than the sum of racism and sexism” and thus legal and social frameworks to address sexual harassment must “acknowledge the complex and overlapping web of racism and sexism.”  For example, current Title VII forces plaintiffs to choose whether to bring their discrimination case “because of race” or “because of sex” but not both, and “[e]mpirical research has found that plaintiffs bringing intersectional claims are less than half as likely as plaintiffs bringing single claims to win their cases.” Social reform movements have similarly fallen short.

Given broad access to social media, lower barriers to participation, and increased demands for an intersectional approach to feminism, #MeToo had the potential to have very inclusive participation across demographics, strong alliances, and coalitions, but the movement has fallen short of this opportunity.  The experiences of white affluent, and educated women have dominated the narrative with a focus on bringing down high-profile assailants [ ].

In response, Professor Williams proposes legal reform, organizational reform, and cultural reform to address the failure to account for intersectionality in the current response to sexual harassment.  “This strategy will benefit all victims of harassment and is particularly critical for women of color.”  Professor Williams warns that absent these “significant organizational and cultural changes, proposed legal remedies will continue to fail.”

December 3, 2021 in Equal Employment, Gender, Race, Women lawyers, Workplace | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, November 19, 2021

Feedback Bias in the Legal Profession

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, November 3, 2021

Senate Confirms First Openly LGBTQ Women to a Federal Appeals Court

ABA J, Senate Confirms First Openly LGBTQ Woman to a Federal Appeals Court

The U.S. Senate confirmed Vermont Supreme Court Justice Beth Robinson to the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals at New York on Monday, making her the first openly LGBTQ woman to serve on a federal appeals court.

 

Robinson was one of two nominees confirmed to federal appeals courts, Law.com reports. The other is Toby Heytens, former Virginia solicitor general, confirmed to the 4th Circuit at Richmond, Virginia.

 

Robinson is a 1989 graduate of the University of Chicago Law School. She has served as an associate justice on Vermont’s top court since 2011. Before that, she was counsel to Vermont’s governor, a civil litigator at Langrock Sperry & Wool and an associate at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom.

It is possible that the first gay woman federal appellate judge was actually Judge Florence Allen. Allen was the first woman appointed to a federal appellate court, nominated by FDR to the Sixth Circuit (Ohio) in 1932. The jury is still out on whether Allen was gay, with scholars and biographers split.  If so, Allen was not open about it.  The strongest evidence is that she lived in committed cohabitation partnerships (so-called Boston marriages) with one woman, Susan, and then after her early death, with another woman, Mary for the rest of her life. For more on Allen, see Tracy Thomas, The Jurisprudence of the First Woman Judge: Challenging the Myth of Women Judging Differently, 27 William & Mary J. Race, Gender & Social Justice 293 (2020).

November 3, 2021 in Courts, Judges, LGBT, Women lawyers | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, October 21, 2021

Recovering the Legal History of Women's Right to Hold Public Office

Elizabeth Katz, Sex, Suffrage, and State Constitutional Law: Women's Legal Right to Hold Public Office,  
Yale Journal of Law & Feminism, Forthcoming

Relying on extensive historical research, this Article is the first to examine how women advocated for the legal right to hold public office in state-level litigation, constitutional amendments, legislative lobbying, and other venues for more than a century. From the 1840s through the 1940s, women in many states were excluded from holding even mundane public offices because of state constitutional language and judicial holdings. Opponents of women’s officeholding feared that permitting women to hold posts would deprive men of their rightful opportunities, radically alter gender norms, and fuel the flames of the women’s suffrage movement. The nation’s first women lawyers were particularly active in challenging these restrictions, with results varying by region and reflecting distinct legal, political, and social cultures. Women in the West obtained public offices relatively early, in part because they were the first to secure suffrage. Women in the Northeast and South faced the most difficult hurdles because conservative state judiciaries construed constitutional silences as implying women’s exclusion from office. The Midwest emerged as the contested middle ground; although women could not vote in Midwestern states for most of the studied period, many courts nevertheless held that they were entitled to hold both appointed and elected offices.

Recovering the history of women’s legal right to hold public office challenges three major conventional wisdoms. First, it undermines the commonplace claim in scholarship on women’s legal and political history that officeholding was not a meaningful part of women’s advocacy or experiences until after ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment in 1920. This account instead shows that proponents of women’s rights have long demanded women’s access to public posts, and women held positions more than a half century prior to the federal suffrage amendment. Second, this Article challenges prominent scholarship—mostly focused on interpreting the Reconstruction Amendments—that treats officeholding as an obvious or inevitable twin to suffrage. Foregrounding women’s history and state-level advocacy emphasizes the legal possibility and practical reality of severing these political rights. Third, and relatedly, the Article calls for more attention to state constitutional law and regional variation. The women’s officeholding story clearly demonstrates how focusing on one geographical area, providing a single national account, or limiting analysis to the federal level obscures essential developments in securing rights.

October 21, 2021 in Constitutional, Judges, Legal History, Women lawyers | Permalink | Comments (0)

It's Not About Leaning In. Negotiation Will Not Fix Sexism

Andrea Schneider, Indisputably, Negotiation Will Not Fix Sexism

Let’s start with the obvious–it pains me to realize that negotiation can’t fix everything.  As someone who loves to teach negotiation–and has long believed in the power of positive asking–I also need to recognize when individual action will not–and cannot–fix the ingrained biases and structural sexism that exists in the workplace.  A slew of recent studies back up this point in variety of ways that also point to a more nuanced understanding of what does need to be fixed.

To give a little history–many read Lean In and/or Women Don’t Ask and took these books as a call to focus on women’s deficiencies in negotiation.   This was despite that the fact that I and others had found no differences in perceived assertiveness among lawyers or other leaders.  (More from me in TEDx talk version here and research article here.)

Caveat– this is not to deny that differences in levels of assertiveness are found among young women in competitive, one shot negotiations with limited knowledge nor to discount the fact that failure to negotiate a higher starting salary leads to less money down the road.  It IS to say that these younger, less confident women should not be the template for advice to mature women in the workplace.  Numerous workplace studies have since confirmed that women and men ask for raises and promotions at the same rate–the problem is who receives them.

So–it is not that women don’t ask and it is not that women can’t lead–it is that the men (and women) who evaluate them do not promote them and underestimate their potential.  A study from Yale shows the disconnect between performance (in which women were rated highly) and potential (where moderately performing men were still given higher potential ratings than highly performing women )   This video interview with Prof. Kelly Shue talks through the study beautifully and the impact, over time, of this underassessment of women.  She and her researchers found that women were 14% less likely to be promoted each year–which resulted in a drop off from 56% women at the entry level to 14% women district managers.

Similarly, in an op-ed last week in the Wall Street Journal, renowned gender researcher Laura Kray and postdoc scholar Margaret Lee take on the “women don’t negotiate myth” and demonstrate that the pay gap results from women being given less responsibility over time–women lead smaller teams (despite the HBR results showing that women lead better) and this smaller leadership responsibility leads to less salary.

Moreover, study after study in Harvard Business Review have now shown that women are perceived as better leaders by their peers in 360 degree reviews–scoring higher than men on 17 of 19 measures before the pandemic and–in the face of a crisis–outperforming men even more.

October 21, 2021 in Business, Equal Employment, Gender, Women lawyers, Workplace | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

2019 Annual Survey The Cost of Women's Success, Law School Survey of Student Engagement

Law School Survey of Student Engagement, 2019 Annual Survey: The Cost of Women's Success

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.

October 20, 2021 in Education, Law schools, Women lawyers | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, October 15, 2021

#MeToo: Unintended Consequences for Sponsorship of Women in the Workplace

Ann C. McGinley, #MeToo Backlash or Simply Common Sense?: It’s Complicated, 50 Seton Hall L. Rev. 1397 (2020).

The #MeToo movement brought much needed awareness and momentum to societal and workplace culture change.  Indeed, some perceive that the “movement has led to increased employer response, including updating of sexual harassment policies, providing guidance about appropriate work behavior, providing information about reporting harassment, and stopping or removing problematic employees.”  Unfortunately, the movement has also led to unintended effects of decreasing sponsor and mentor opportunities for women by men in leadership who fear sexual harassment allegations. Such fears, as discussed in this article, arise from stereotypes prohibited by law and include an unsupported presumption of frequent false allegations, not to mention are predicated on a heterosexual worldview. These fears can lead to men in positions of leadership refusing to engage in common work activities such as “mentoring, socializing, one-on-one meetings,” and travel with a female colleague or subordinate, although they will engage in these activities with similarly situated male colleagues. While this article acknowledges that something needs to be done to address these fears, Professor McGinley is adamant that “refusing to mentor and sponsor female lawyers is not the way to go.” 

In fact, it is detrimental to the advancement of women in the workplace. “Research demonstrates the importance of sponsorship, particularly for women and people of color” and “[i]n order for women to succeed [equivalent to their male counterparts], men must actively mentor and sponsor them.”  This is because, as Professor McGinley points out, that with the “vast majority of manager and senior leaders” being men, they have a central role in whether women’s advancement is promoted or hindered at work, simply by their choice of whether to be a sponsor.  The importance of sponsorship is summed up in this anecdote:

One tax attorney described how he supported his protégé all the way to partnership, having hired her in the first place.  He was confident of her ability to deliver and when long-term clients demurred at liaising primarily with a junior person, this attorney vouched for her expertise.  When she became the target of unfair criticism by another partner, he intervened, extorting from that partner an apology and a promise to look at the evidence and be less judgmental. In subtle and overt ways, he ensured that she was able to thrive which indeed she did, making partner in four years.

Professor McGinley takes the reader through the current status of sexual harassment law and its drawbacks in addressing this problem and others.  The article also sets forth solutions for how the law and employers can move forward in advancing women in the workplace by addressing more effectively sexual harassment and its direct and indirect effects.

October 15, 2021 in Equal Employment, Gender, Women lawyers, Workplace | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Accidental Feminism: Gender parity and selective mobility among India's professional elite

Accidental Feminism: gender parity and selective mobility among India's professional elite

Preface to: Accidental feminism: Gender parity and selective mobility among India's professional elite

By Swethaa Ballakrishnen

Princeton : Princeton University Press, 2021.

In India, elite law firms offer a surprising oasis for women within a hostile, predominantly male industry. Less than 10 percent of the country’s lawyers are female, but women in the most prestigious firms are significantly represented both at entry and partnership. Elite workspaces are notorious for being unfriendly to new actors, so what allows for aberration in certain workspaces?

Drawing from observations and interviews with more than 130 elite professionals, Accidental Feminism examines how a range of underlying mechanisms—gendered socialization and essentialism, family structures and dynamics, and firm and regulatory histories—afford certain professionals egalitarian outcomes that are not available to their local and global peers. Juxtaposing findings on the legal profession with those on elite consulting firms, Swethaa Ballakrishnen reveals that parity arises not from a commitment to create feminist organizations, but from structural factors that incidentally come together to do gender differently. Simultaneously, their research offers notes of caution: while conditional convergence may create equality in ways that more targeted endeavors fail to achieve, “accidental” developments are hard to replicate, and are, in this case, buttressed by embedded inequalities. Ballakrishnen examines whether gender parity produced without institutional sanction should still be considered feminist.

In offering new ways to think about equality movements and outcomes, Accidental Feminism forces readers to critically consider the work of intention in progress narratives.

September 28, 2021 in Books, Gender, International, Women lawyers, Work/life, Workplace | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

CFP Rutgers Law, Feminism in the Law--An Exploration of Justice Ginsburg's Legacy

Call for Papers

The Women’s Rights Law Reporter is seeking submissions for its annual symposium entitled “Feminism in the Law: An Exploration of Justice Ginsburg’s Legacy.”

The symposium will be held on December 2, 2021 from 3-5 pm on the Newark campus in conjunction with Rutgers Law School’s ceremony for the renaming of 15 Washington Street in honor of the late Justice. As a Rutgers Law School faculty member, Ruth Bader Ginsburg served as the first faculty adviser to the Women’s Rights Law Reporter, which is the nation’s oldest legal periodical focusing on the field of women’s rights law.

The symposium will explore Justice Ginsburg’s lasting legacy and the work that still needs to be done in the field of gender, sexuality, and the law. The symposium promises to be a very well publicized and attended event that will include opening remarks by Justice Ginsburg’s daughter, Professor Jane Ginsburg. We hope to include a wide range of scholars on the panel who can discuss how Justice Ginsburg’s achievements have impacted their own work and scholarship.

The symposium is being planned as an in-person event, subject to evolving New Jersey health regulations. In the event that the event cannot be held live, we will hold the symposium virtually. We are also open to a hybrid format if a panel member is unable to travel due to health concerns.

Those interested in participating should submit an abstract (~750-1,000) words and CV to eics@womensrightslawreporter.com with the subject “RBG Symposium Submission” by September 30, 2021.  Given the short timeline, decisions will be made by October 15, 2021. Those selected will be contacted via email and provided information about traveling to Rutgers Law School for the symposium. We will provide a modest honorarium per speaker as well as reimbursement for reasonable travel expenses.

Once selected, draft articles should be submitted by November 22, 2021. We are looking to have a final draft of paper submissions by January 25, 2021. We are, however, willing to accommodate you if you are unable to adhere to this timeline. Paper length should be roughly 5,000 words; however, we are willing to consider pieces that are either longer or shorter. Papers will be published in the spring edition of the Women’s Rights Law Reporter.

We look forward to reading your submissions and are anticipating a very successful, thought-provoking symposium.

Sincerely,

Samantha Arnold & Siena Carnevale

Co-Editors-In-Chief, Women’s Rights Law Reporter

September 22, 2021 in Call for Papers, Women lawyers | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, September 3, 2021

Pandemic Practice - The Disparate Impact on Female Attorneys

Liane Jackson, How Pandemic Practice Left Lawyer-moms Facing Burnout, ABA Journal, August/September Issue (2021).

This article explores the pandemic’s effect on the “participation gap in the labor market” between women and men, and posits that “hard-won gains are disappearing,” “the gap is widening,” and experts posit that the effects “will be felt in the legal industry for years to come.”

It will come as no surprise that “women are America’s default social safety net” and have therefore “taken on the lion’s share of pandemic parenting,” as numerous studies have already shown.  This is due to a number of social pressures and norms, which this article addresses.  Of particular note is the “idealized version of intensive motherhood” which sets a standard by which “women are expected to sacrifice their careers, their well-being, their sleep, [and] their mental health for the good of their children.”  Competing with this social construct, is another equally pervasive standard to which female lawyers are held “of total commitment . . . this ideal worker norm that says you’re supposed to sacrifice everything for your job.”  It is no wonder, in this zero sum game, that increased drinking, stress, desire to leave the profession, and mental health issues are being reported in higher percentages of women than men as a result of a pandemic which left parents with few childcare options and a lead role in their children’s education. “The pandemic has disproportionately affected women and minority attorneys, with female lawyers of color feeling increased isolation and stress.”

So what can we do to alleviate the disadvantage experienced by female attorneys as we begin to return from pandemic-induced remote work environments?  Liane Jackson argues that flexible work options need to be accompanied by a genuine commitment to not allowing those options to come with a conscious or unconscious institutional/advancement penalty.  This requires a “recognizing that family has a value, households have a value and people have a value outside the workplace.”  To do otherwise will “continue[] to threaten retention rates.” We must be intentional as we begin to emerge from this pandemic to not penalize female attorneys whose "productivity" (as traditionally measured) may have fallen below that of male counterparts due to the unequal sharing of pandemic pressures discussed above.  Employers should focus on retention and advancement standards that are equitable to female attorneys who continue to be marginalized by disparate and competing social pressures.  “Women are still being marginalized, and they don’t always have the power base to fight back.” We must do better.

September 3, 2021 in Equal Employment, Family, Gender, Women lawyers, Work/life, Workplace | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, September 1, 2021

Bills Introduced in Congress to Allow Professional Licenses of One State to be Valid in State to Which Military Spouse is Relocated

Military spouses’ unspoken oath to America? Giving up careers that require them to stay put.

Military spouses, more than 90 percent of whom are women, often put their careers on the back burner because of their unspoken oath to America. Even before the pandemic, estimates put the unemployment rate of military spouses between three and six times the national rate.

But bills introduced in Congress by Rep. Mike Garcia (R-Calif.) and Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) would help ease that burden by allowing licenses issued by one state to be considered valid in the state to which the spouse or service member has been relocated on military orders. The House version, which has 25 co-sponsors, has been referred to a subcommittee within the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs. If passed, the bill would impact all professional licenses, including those required to be a real estate agent, teacher and nurse.

Most states have some flexibility for military spouses who need to transfer professional licenses, experts say, but it’s a patchwork of various levels of exemptions for each industry. The Department of Defense has been working on the issue since 2011, and 26 states have agreed to at least issuing a license to a military spouse within 30 days with little upfront paperwork, according to Marcus Beauregard, director of the Defense-State Liaison Office.

A congressional bill would create uniformity, advocates say.

September 1, 2021 in Business, Legislation, Women lawyers, Work/life | Permalink | Comments (0)

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.

August 27, 2021 in Education, Gender, Law schools, LGBT, Race, Women lawyers | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, August 19, 2021

The Male Measure of Gender Diversity in Big Law Firms

Alissa Rubin Gomez, Mismeasure of Success, 94 St. John's L. Rev. (2021)  

Using feminist standpoint theory, this essay explores the idea that solutions proposed by big law firms to retain women miss the mark because they are still framed from the viewpoint of a white man. This is not because the white male perspective is bad; it is simply not the lived experience of the women for whom the proposed solutions are intended. Reframing the measure of success using a feminist standpoint would have us reconsider whether the primary reason women leave big law firms is actually a “problem.” Instead, having multiple demands on one’s time outside work might be viewed as both normal and an indication of well-roundedness. Building workplace cultures using personal fulfillment as a baseline has the potential to make for happier workers who stay in their jobs longer, and in the time of COVID-19, we may just be at an inflexion point that makes such a culture shift possible.

August 19, 2021 in Theory, Women lawyers, Workplace | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, August 13, 2021

Perceiving and Eliminating Discrimination in the Legal Workplace

Robert L. Nelson, Ioana Sendroiu, Ronit Dinovitzer, and Meghan Dawe, Perceiving Discrimination: Race, Gender, and Sexual Orientation in the Legal Workplace, Law and Social Inquiry, Volume 44, Issue 4 (2019).

In this article, the authors discuss workplace inequities based on race, gender, and sexual orientation.  To do so, they combine quantitative and qualitative data to go beyond “analyzing unequal outcomes” and delve further into “the mechanisms that produce and maintain workplace hierarchies of race, gender, and sexual orientation.”  The qualitative component uses perception as a measure, that is, the authors “examine[d] whether lawyers perceive that they have been the target of workplace discrimination.”  

Although some might be hesitant to consider perceptions as a reliable measure, consider that “[p]erceptions of discrimination by marginalized groups are significant in their own right as a matter of workplace equality, but will also likely affect their health and well-being, their job satisfaction, and their willingness to continue working for a given employer.” Additionally, these perceptions, with a few exceptions examined by the authors, tend to be supported by the quantitative data regarding measurable inequitable outcomes on the basis of race, gender, and sexual orientation. 

This qualitative data is also important in determining “how inequality is created and maintained, rather than merely its extent.” By analyzing this data, the authors necessarily highlight areas and circumstances of perceived discrimination from which employers in the legal profession can derive solutions for combatting such inequities, or perception of inequities.  Examples could include instituting efforts or programs that foster community and belonging; formalized personnel structures and policies that produce consistency and transparency in employment law processes like hiring, promotion, and complaint procedures; and generally having sound hiring practices that lead to increased diversity in the workplace, which will in turn lend itself to greater emotional and informational support to members of traditionally underincluded groups.

The inequities and perceived inequities that this article illustrates poses a challenge to us all as legal professionals to understand the scope of the problem and implement strategies to remove these barriers. Indeed, as the authors point out, “[t]o the extent that lawyers of different races, genders, and sexual orientations are exposed to discrimination that limits their career development, it will erode the capacity of the legal profession to provide equal representation to all groups in society. . . . The fate of equal justice may be tied to the fate of equal opportunity in lawyer careers.”

August 13, 2021 in Equal Employment, Gender, LGBT, Race, Women lawyers, Workplace | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, August 10, 2021

Introducing New Editor at Gender and the Law Prof Blog, Dean Brenda Bauges

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

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.

August 10, 2021 in Business, Law schools, Women lawyers | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, August 4, 2021

Meet the New Gender and the Law Prof Blog Editor Amanda Fisher

We welcome to the Gender & the Law Prof Blog editorial team Amanda Fisher.  Amanda has done some blogging for Above the Law, and we are excited to have her join the Gender Blog team.

Amanda M. Fisher

Amanda M. Fisher is an Associate Attorney at Richardson, Ober, DeNichilo and a Ph.D. Candidate at the University of California, Irvine in Criminology, Law & Society. She is researching gendered stigma in the legal profession and identity. Amanda is also a Visiting Assistant Professor at Western Michigan-Cooley Law School in Tampa, Florida. You can follow her on Twitter or reach her via email at fishera@cooley.edu.

August 4, 2021 in Business, Women lawyers | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, August 3, 2021

New lawyer demographics show modest growth in minority attorneys

New lawyer demographics show modest growth in minority attorneys

 

There are now more than 1.3 million attorneys in the country, though that figure dipped slightly in the past year—a decline the ABA attributed to Vermont starting to count only lawyers who reside in the state and not those who practice there. The ABA on Thursday released its annual Profile of the Legal Profession, with updated data on lawyer demographics broken down by gender, race, geography and age. While the ABA issues new figures each year, it compares that data to the previous decade to highlight trends and changes over time.

The percentage of women attorneys increased to 37% from 33% in 2011, according to the report, and racial diversity in the profession has also made slow but steady progress. Lawyers of color made up 11.2% of all attorneys in 2011, and now comprise 14.6%. But those gains were not seen across all minority groups.

The percentage of Black attorneys decreased slightly from 4.8% in 2011 to 4.7% this year—far lower than the more than 13% of Americans who are Black. The percentage of Native Americans also declined, from 1% in 2011 to less than half a percent this year. 

August 3, 2021 in Gender, Race, Women lawyers, Workplace | Permalink | Comments (0)