Thursday, February 29, 2024

Reform of Sexual Harassment Laws in Australia

Belinda Smith, Respect@Work Amendments: A Positive Reframing of Australia’s Sexual Harassment Laws,  
(2023) 36 Australian Journal of Labour Law 145

Australian law on sexual harassment has seen many changes in the past few years. This article outlines and analyses these changes in light of the findings of the inquiry that recommended them, Respect@Work: National Inquiry into Sexual Harassment in Australian Workplaces. The Report found that sexual harassment was pervasive, harmful and clearly not being addressed by the existing laws, which relied almost entirely on individual victims to lodge formal complaints and bear the burden of driving change. The legislative amendments serve to harmonise and improve individual protections across the Sex Discrimination Act 1984 (Cth), Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) and work health and safety laws. The most significant change, though, is the introduction of a new duty on persons conducting a business or undertaking to take positive steps to prevent harassment and sex discrimination. While its deficiencies are acknowledged, this duty could play an important functional and symbolic role in shifting regulatory attention from victims to their employers and other duty holders, and more importantly, from redressing harm after the fact to preventing it in the first place.

February 29, 2024 in Equal Employment, International, Legislation, Work/life | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, November 27, 2023

Rachel Arnow-Richman on "Beyond the Glass Ceiling: Panes of Equity Partnership"

Rachel Arnow-Richman has posted Beyond the Glass Ceiling: Panes of Equity Partnership on SSRN. This article is forthcoming in the Florida International University Law Review. The abstract is excerpted here:

This Article . . . explores the partnership pay gap in large law firms and the role of high-profile litigation in facilitating pay equity. There is a rich literature and extensive data on the gender attainment gap in elite law practice, particularly with regard to women’s attrition from practice and poor representation within the partnership ranks. Less attention has been paid to the way in which the exceptional women who achieve equity partner status continue to lag behind their male peers. This Article explores “Women v. BigLaw,” a cluster of equal pay cases brought by women partners . . . against elite firms. [I]t reveals how the same unspoken beliefs that underlie the law firm glass ceiling operate above it, placing women partners at the bottom of a new compensation hierarchy centered on origination credit. Due to historical allocations, a culture of deference toward male rainmakers, and implicitly biased attorney development and evaluation practices, origination operates as a form of “legacy credit” that locks in preexisting entitlements favoring male partners. Despite this, gender equity in law practice has been framed principally as a professional value, not a legal imperative. Women v. BigLaw and the unprecedented use of the court system by women lawyers reveals, however, that partnership pay practices pose a liability risk to firms. This new reality may incent structural change in ways that attention to gender equity as a managerial and professional goal could not.

November 27, 2023 in Theory, Women lawyers, Work/life, Workplace | Permalink | Comments (0)

Aya Gruber Publishes "A Tale of Two Me Toos"

Aya Gruber has published A Tale of Two Me Toos in volume 2023 of the Illinois Law Review. The abstract is excerpted here: 

What is #MeToo’s legacy? The conventional account currently being indelibly forged into our collective memory is that #MeToo was an unconditional progressive victory. It was a reckoning of the disempowered against the powerful that profoundly challenged sexist culture. This Article complicates and even counters that narrative by shining a light on #MeToo’s dark side, namely, its carceral and neoliberal messages and policy reforms. Although today’s George-Floyd-mindful feminists often describe #MeToo as having nothing to do with criminal law, the reality is that the movement featured familiar tough-on-crime discourses, passionately called for more criminal law and prosecutorial power, and, in fact, produced several new carceral laws and policies. Yet, just hours after famous actor Alyssa Milano sent the tweet heard around the world, Black Twitter revealed that Me Too already existed: Tarana Burke’s “me too movement.” This Me Too centered on survivors’ material and emotional needs, focused on young women of color living in socioeconomic precarity, and embraced noncriminal “transformative justice.” Milano’s #MeToo, by contrast, incorporated popular narratives of criminality, bolstered the legitimacy of the penal state, and relied on traditional notions of sex and gender. And it was Milano’s that became the Me Too. This Article contrasts the two Me Toos to critique the individualistic and punitive #MeToo movement that is and mourn the intersectional and restorative Me Too movement that could have been. #MeToo’s emphasis on sensational stories and social media derived evidence of “epidemics” effectively cut off debate, enabling carceral reforms to pass at a dizzying pace. This Article is the first to catalogue, describe, and examine the actual criminal laws and policies erected in #MeToo’s name. Even a surface analysis of these reforms reveals that, contrary to advocates’ claims, they do not just close “loopholes.” Instead, each new or broadened criminal law raises troubling issues of civil liberties, defendants’ rights, and state power, and each portends to sweep in people—including women—who bear little resemblance to the unrepentant monstrous offenders featured in #MeToo discourse.

November 27, 2023 in Gender, Theory, Work/life, Workplace | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, October 12, 2023

Nobel Prize in Economics Awarded to Claudia Goldin for Work on the Gender Pay Gap

The Nobel Prize explains the relevance of her research:

Historically, much of the gender gap in earnings could be explained by differences in education and occupational choices. However, this year’s economic sciences laureate Claudia Goldin has shown that the bulk of this earnings difference is now between men and women in the same occupation, and that it largely arises with the birth of the first child. 

  ***

By trawling through the archives and compiling and correcting historical data, this year’s economic sciences laureate Claudia Goldin has been able to present new and often surprising facts. She has also given us a deeper understanding of the factors that affect women’s opportunities in the labour market and how much their work has been in demand. The fact that women’s choices have often been, and remain, limited by marriage and responsibility for the home and family is at the heart of her analyses and explanatory models. Goldin’s studies have also taught us that change takes time, because choices that affect entire careers are based on expectations that may later prove to be false. Her insights reach far outside the borders of the US and similar patterns have been observed in many other countries. Her research brings us a better understanding of the labour markets of yesterday, today and tomorrow.

UChicago Alum Claudia Goldin Wins Nobel Prize for Research on Gender and Labor

        Detailing Goldin's work and books.

Podcast, Claudia Goldin: Why do Women Still Make Less Than Men?, Harvard Magazine.

 

October 12, 2023 in Business, Equal Employment, Family, Gender, Work/life | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, September 25, 2023

Widiss on "The Federal Pregnant Workers Fairness Act: Essential Support, Especially in Post-Dobbs America"

Deborah A. Widiss has published The Federal Pregnant Workers Fairness Act: Essential Support, Especially in Post-Dobbs America on SSRN. The article is forthcoming in the Employee Rights and Employment Policy Journal in 2023. The abstract is excerpted here: 

The federal Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, enacted in December 2022, is landmark legislation that will help ensure workers can stay healthy through a pregnancy. It responds to the reality that pregnant workers may need changes at work, such as permission to sit on a stool, carry a water bottle, relief from heavy lifting, or reduced exposure to potentially dangerous chemicals. Workers may also need schedule modifications or leave for prenatal appointments, childbirth, or post-partum recovery, or accommodations to address medical conditions related to pregnancy or childbirth.

Previously, federal sex discrimination law and federal disability law sometimes required employers to provide such accommodations, but many pregnancy-related needs fell between the cracks. Both employees and employers were confused about how the requirements of those laws interacted. PWFA, passed with strong bipartisan support, provides a clear standard modeled on disability law: employers must provide reasonable accommodations for pregnancy, childbirth, and related medical conditions, unless doing so would be an undue hardship.

This Article analyzes the new federal statute’s substantive provisions in detail, as well as key legislative history, models for the statutory language, and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s proposed regulations. It explains the basic reasonable accommodation requirement, other substantive requirements, the likely scope of “related medical conditions,” and the remedies that will be available if violations occur. The Article also highlights how new restrictions on abortion access make PWFA even more essential. In states that have sharply curtailed abortion rights, more women are carrying pregnancies, including high-risk pregnancies, to term. PWFA is not a substitute for the autonomy to make decisions regarding reproductive health, but it can help keep pregnant workers healthy and assure they are treated with dignity and fairness.

September 25, 2023 in Healthcare, Pregnancy, Work/life, Workplace | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, August 2, 2023

Women's Weak Language is a Source of Strength

Adam Grant, Op Ed, NYT, Women Know Exactly What They're Doing When They Use "Weak Language."

“Stop using weak language.” If you’re a woman, you’ve probably gotten this advice from a mentor, a coach or a teacher. If you want to be heard, use more forceful language. If you want a raise or a promotion, demand it. As the saying goes, nice girls don’t get the corner office.

This advice may be well intentioned, but it’s misguided. Disclaimers (I might be wrong, but …), hedges (maybe, sort of), and tag questions (don’t you think?) can be a strategic advantage. So-called weak language is an unappreciated source of strength. Understanding why can explain a lot about the way women acquire power and influence — and how men do, too.

It turns out that women who use weak language when they ask for raises are more likely to get them. In one experiment, experienced managers watched videos of people negotiating for higher pay and weighed in on whether the request should be granted. The participants were more willing to support a salary bump for women — and said they would be more eager to work with them — if the request sounded tentative: “I don’t know how typical it is for people at my level to negotiate,” they said, following a script, “but I’m hopeful you’ll see my skill at negotiating as something important that I bring to the job.” By using a disclaimer (“I don’t know …”) and a hedge “(I hope …”), the women reinforced the supervisor’s authority and avoided the impression of arrogance. For the men who asked for a raise, however, weak language neither helped nor hurt. No one was fazed if they just came out and demanded more money.

In 29 studies, women in a variety of situations had a tendency to use more “tentative language” than men. But that language doesn’t reflect a lack of assertiveness or conviction. Rather, it’s a way to convey interpersonal sensitivity — interest in other people’s perspectives — and that’s why it’s powerful.***

New evidence reveals that it’s not ambition per se that women are being penalized for. In fact, women who are perceived as intelligent and capable, determined and achievement-oriented, independent and self-reliant are seen as more promotable to leadership positions.

The problem arises if people perceive them to be forceful, controlling, commanding and outspoken. These are qualities for which men are regularly given a pass, but they put women at risk of being disliked and denied for leadership roles

August 2, 2023 in Equal Employment, Gender, Pop Culture, Work/life | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, March 31, 2023

Sexual Harassment Reconceived as Misappropriation and Waste of Corporate Human and Financial Assets

Jennifer Ann Drobac, The Misappropriation, Embezzlement, Theft, and Waste of Corporate Human and Financial Assets: Sexual Harassment Reconceived, 36 ABA J. LAB. & EMP. L. 425-477 (2022).

This article suggests how sexual harassment should be treated by companies as a civil misappropriation, embezzlement, conversion, or theft—as well as a civil rights violation. Additionally, some payment associated with sex-based harassment should be considered corporate waste. The misappropriation approach considers not only how sex-based harassment constitutes a civil misappropriation, embezzlement, conversion, or theft, but it also responds to three anticipated objections to sexual harassment as a civil misappropriation: (1) sexual harassment is a minor corporate expense; (2) identification of sexual harassment as civil misappropriation of corporate human assets commodifies targets; and (3) this new concept will change neither corporate responses nor corporate cultures. First, in response, sexual harassment is not a minor expense but one that costs companies billions of dollars annually. It is, therefore, in a company’s financial interest to treat the problem as a theft of valuable assets. Second, only corporate failure to recognize the market value of female professional talent dehumanizes people. Almost all human beings engage in work, and men, in particular, are valued for their work. Thus, the misappropriation solution puts targets on the same plane as privileged men, valued for their market productivity (as opposed to sexual or reproductive utility). Third, the identification of sexual harassment as a theft, conversion, embezzlement, or misappropriation, as well as a civil rights violation, encourages companies to modify and improve their remedial responses, corporate culture, profitability, and transparency. By making corporations and harassment targets as potential allies, instead of adversaries, the reconception of sex-based harassment as a misappropriation of corporate human assets incentivizes new collaborations for social and economic justice.

March 31, 2023 in Business, Equal Employment, Work/life, Workplace | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, January 30, 2023

Study Analyzes Why the Gender Pay Gap Has Stalled

Peter Blair and Benjamin Posmanick have published a working paper titled Why Did Gender Wage Convergence in the United States Stall with the Human Capital and Economic Opportunity Global Working Group. The abstract provides: 

During the 1980s, the wage gap between white women and white men in the US declined by approximately 1 percentage point per year. In the decades since, the rate of gender wage convergence has stalled to less than one-third of its previous value. An outstanding puzzle in economics is “why did gender wage convergence in the US stall?” Using an event study design that exploits the timing of state and federal family-leave policies, we show that the introduction of the policies can explain 94% of the reduction in the rate of gender wage convergence that is unaccounted for after controlling for changes in observable characteristics of workers. If gender wage convergence had continued at the pre-family leave rate, wage parity between white women and white men would have been achieved as early as 2017.

The article concludes: 

[U]sing the introduction of family-leave policies, we explain 94% of the stagnation in gender wage convergence that is unaccounted for after controlling for changes in observable characteristics between men and women. A key lesson from our work is that legally-mandated labor market flexibility can have the unintended effect of stymieing gender wage convergence, notwithstanding the increasing evidence that flexibility which arises endogenously in the labor market through technological innovation, or from firms changing their own policies, can lead to reduced gender wage gaps * * * .

 

The evidence that we provide on the impact of leave policies on gender wage convergence in the US contributes to a growing literature documenting negative impacts of leave policies on gender wage equality in Europe and other OECD countries * * *. Because the leave offered in the US is less generous that what is offered in peer countries, our results suggests an important role for economists to consider what features of family-leave policy design can soften the equity-efficiency trade-off arising from the introduction of family-leave policies. We leave this work to future studies by other scholars having answered the question: “why did gender wage convergence in the United States stall?”

January 30, 2023 in Equal Employment, Gender, Work/life, Workplace | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, January 17, 2023

Missouri House Republications Adopted Stricter Dress Code for Women, Arms Must be Concealed

Missouri House Republicans Adopted Stricter Dress Code -- Just for Women

The Republican-controlled Missouri House of Representatives used its session’s opening day Wednesday to tighten the dress code for female legislators, while leaving the men’s dress code alone.

The changes were spearheaded by state Rep. Ann Kelley (R), a co-sponsor who was among the Republicans seeking to require women to wear a blazer when in the chamber. She was met by swift opposition from Democrats who called it “ridiculous.”

The state House eventually approved a modified version of Kelley’s proposal, which allows for cardigans as well as jackets, but still requires women’s arms to be concealed. Missouri Democrats tore into Republicans for pushing the new restrictions on what women in the chamber could wear. ***
 
While previous rules said that “dresses or skirts or slacks worn with a blazer or sweater and appropriate dress shoes or boots” were allowed to be worn by female lawmakers, Kelley, one of the co-sponsors of H.R. 11, said Wednesday that women needed to wear jackets on the floor as “it is essential to always maintain a formal and professional atmosphere.”

January 17, 2023 in Equal Employment, Legislation, Women lawyers, Work/life | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, January 4, 2023

Senate Passes Protections for Pregnant Workers and New Mothers

Senate Passes Protections for Pregnant Workers and New Mothers

The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act and the PUMP for Nursing Mothers Act passed the Senate with bipartisan support on Thursday as amendments to the omnibus spending package.

Why it matters: It's a major milestone for women's workplace civil rights. Advocates have pushed for protections for pregnant workers for over a decade, arguing that thousands of women lose their jobs each year — either fired or placed on unpaid leave — because employers are under no obligation to offer pregnant workers reasonable accommodations.

  • Those would include things like extra bathroom breaks, the ability to sit while working a cash register or restrictions on how much weight they can lift.

January 4, 2023 in Equal Employment, Family, Legislation, Pregnancy, Work/life | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, December 19, 2022

Patrice Ruane Publishes Article on Women's Employment from the Great Depression to the Great Recesssion

Patrice Ruane has published From Pin Workers to Essential Workers: Lessons About Women's Employment and the Covid-19 Pandemic from the Great Depression and the Great Recession in volume 29 of the UCLA Journal of Gender and the Law. The abstract is here: 

This Article argues that inaccurate ideas about women and work during economic downturns, including misconceptions about which women work and how they work, lead to inadequate policy responses and ultimately hurt working women. New Deal-era federal women’s aid programs, designed around an artificial picture of the average working woman, did not provide the same robust level of jobs support that men’s programs provided. Similarly, the major federal stimulus package during the Great Recession invested in male-majority industries but failed to invest in industries dependent upon women’s labor, in part because of the misconception that working women were already “winning” the jobs race. Framing the average working woman during the pandemic recession as a remote worker in a two-income household has the potential to steer federal policy away from avenues that would help the majority of women workers who are not remote workers in two-income households. Recovery efforts during the Great Depression and the Great Recession were gender-informed and effective, but biased toward men. These recovery efforts were concentrated in male-majority industries and consequently led to men’s employment recovering long before women’s employment did. Because pandemic-related job losses have been so unevenly borne by women, gender-informed recovery policies are not only justifiable, but necessary to achieve equitable recovery.

 

This Article also questions the speculation, articulated in an influential paper by a group of economists, that the COVID-19 pandemic will accelerate changing social norms and lead to greater gender parity by increasing the number of people who are accustomed to working remotely and driving men to take on additional childcare responsibilities. The conditions following the Great Depression and the Great Recession were more conducive to changing gender norms and expectations because both events disrupted traditional male-breadwinner models of the family and resulted in large numbers of families in which the woman was employed and the man unemployed. But neither resulted in lasting improvements in gender equity in the home or at work. Both events were followed by a reactionary impulse to return to a traditionally gendered view of the organization of labor. The pandemic recession does not present the opportunity to disrupt gender norms by creating more households headed by women breadwinners, yet the risk of a conservative reversion to more traditionally gendered norms is still present.

 

December 19, 2022 in Equal Employment, Family, Gender, Work/life, Workplace | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, December 6, 2022

Gendered and Racialized Emotional Labor in Public Organizations

Cynthia Barboza-Wilkes, REPRODUCING INEQUITY IN ORGANIZATIONS: GENDERED AND RACIALIZED EMOTIONAL LABOR IN PUBLIC ORGANIZATIONS, PhD Thesis (USC School of Public Policy) 

Emotional labor research in public administration lags behind other fields, is often omitted from discussions of representative bureaucracy, and rarely looks at its gendered and racialized dimensions. The existing scholarship fails to consider the dynamic nature of emotions and that different emotions (e.g., happiness versus anger) might warrant different emotional labor techniques for different groups. Meanwhile, scholars from sociology, applied psychology, and organizational behavior widely recognize the importance of emotional labor, but few have used an intersectional lens to study the well-recognized phenomenon.

This dissertation uses an intersectional approach to codify the difficult-to-measure and often unobserved emotional labor that can institutionalize inequity within public organizations. An intersectional approach is essential to make visible the experiences of those at the intersection of multiple marginalized identities, and this dissertation describes in detail how the antecedents, experiences, and consequences of emotional labor differ based on the employee’s combination of gender and racial identity. Using a mixed-methods research design that combines daily diary entries and semi-structured interviews, this work (1) describes and measures the emotional labor embedded in both service encounters with the public and internal interactions among colleagues, (2) looks at subgroup differences in the emotional effort at the intersection of race and gender, and (3) assesses the relationship between emotional labor and burnout to inform our understanding of the well-being of a diverse public sector workforce.

I find meaningful differences within and between individuals in the emotions needed to effectively engage the public and navigate public institutions. The results reveal that, compared to their peers, women of color engage in more taxing forms of emotional labor, feel more emotionally constrained by organizational rules, are more cognizant of managing gendered and racialized stereotypes, and are more sensitive to whether the climate allows for authentic expression. I also show that public employees experienced heightened burnout during the pandemic, and the suppression of emotion contributed to that burnout, but in different ways for different groups. In particular, women of color who suppressed negative emotions were more likely to experience a reduced sense of personal accomplishment, increased cynicism, disengagement from their work, and more emotional exhaustion.

This project reveals important distinctions in the type of emotional labor demanded of public employees and how those emotional demands differ across gender and racial identities. The results make visible the experiences of those at the margins of multiple lived experiences of oppression, allowing women of color to articulate their own emotional experiences in ways that center their voices. Importantly, this work highlights the importance of factoring emotional labor into the experience of burnout at work while emphasizing that the relationship between the two varies for individuals of different backgrounds. I provide concrete proof that there is an uneven distribution of emotional labor in public organizations, and it falls predominantly on women of color.


Measuring a construct as complex and dynamic as emotional labor lays the groundwork for important reform. By codifying, measuring, and describing the differential emotional burdens embedded in public organizations, I quantitatively demonstrate the need for equitable human resource management practices that address how organizations structurally reinforce inequity.

December 6, 2022 in Equal Employment, Race, Work/life, Workplace | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, October 24, 2022

Gender Disparities in Law Firm Partner Pay

The ABA Journal reports on ongoing disparities in law firm partner pay with some movement toward lessening the gap.  

The average male law firm partner earns 34% more than the average female partner, which is less of a differential than in prior years, according to a survey by recruiting firm Major, Lindsey & Africa in association with Law360.

Average compensation for male partners in midsize and large law firms is $1,212,000 for male partners and $905,000 for female partners, according to the 2022 Partner Compensation Survey. A summary and a link to download the survey is here.

The pay differential was 53% in 2018 and 44% in 2020.

Average partner compensation overall was $1,119,000, up 15% from 2020. Median compensation was $675,000.

October 24, 2022 in Women lawyers, Work/life, Workplace | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, October 20, 2022

Remote Work as Reinforcing Gender Inequality and the Difficulty of Work-Life Balance

Tammy Katsabian, The Work-Life Virus: Working from Home and its Implications for the Gender Gap and Questions of Intersectionality, Forthcoming in the Oklahoma Law Review

Work–life balance is considered to be the top challenge for working women globally. The COVID-19 pandemic catalyzed a worldwide experiment regarding the various components of this challenge and its possible solutions. Because the pandemic forced numerous workers to shift their working lives from the office to their private homes, it created the largest global experiment in remote work in human history, with implications for women’s equality.

As this article wishes to show, the phenomenon of remote work illuminates gender inequality and the difficulty of work–life balance. Since remote work is mainly conducted from the personal residence of the employee, it generates a hybrid private–professional site and brings to the workplace context the private characteristics of the employee. Thus, remote work exposes how women’s traditional role in the private sphere—caregivers—influences their ability to progress at work. The ubiquity of the trend of remote work during the pandemic also revealed what third-wave feminism argued long ago: the feminine experience is not unitary; different women must cope with different difficulties. The pandemic showed that the ability to shift to remote work and successfully balance work with familial duties is not uniform among women. Questions of financial and marital status are also part of this equation.

It appears that working from a distance with the help of technology will become the most prominent way to conduct work in the future. Unless different regulatory models are developed, the current massive telecommuting trend has the potential to strengthen gendered and socioeconomic inequalities in U.S. society. Against this background, this article suggests a model for a solution that considers private–professional hybridity and both employers and governmental authorities. In this way, the article offers broad systemic solutions intended to diminish the effect of an employee’s familial and socioeconomic background on her ability to shift to telework on an equal basis with others and, in doing so, participate equally in the digitalized labor market of the future. 

October 20, 2022 in Family, Work/life, Workplace | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, October 10, 2022

Bloomberg Law on "Women's Big Law Exodus"

Ayanna Alexander published an article for Bloomberg Law titled, Women's Big Law Exodus Picks Up Pace in Blow to Diversity HuntThe article summarizes data published by Leopard Solutions.  

Veteran women attorneys are jettisoning Big Law in favor of in-house jobs at a higher rate, an accelerating trend that hits top law firms at a time when they’re fighting to improve their diversity.

In 2021, only 35% of women who left one of the top 200 law firms in the US joined another Big Law firm . . . . Through the first nine months of 2022, that number has shrunk to 28%. Moving to in-house positions remains the most popular second choice for women who say that gives them more control over their careers.

* * * 

Big Law firms intending to improve their diversity need to consider the factors driving women away from their ranks, which may mean taking a harder look at how firms are structured and operate, said Sonya Olds Som, the global managing partner for the Legal, Risk, Compliance & Government Affairs practice group at executive search firm Diversified Search Group, which also places in-house attorneys.

October 10, 2022 in Women lawyers, Work/life, Workplace | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, September 12, 2022

ABA Survey on the Impact of Raising Children on Legal Careers

The ABA Commission on Women in the Profession is conducting its first-ever survey studying how raising children impacts legal careers

The American Bar Association Commission on Women in the Profession, joined by many other national affinity bars and regional bar associations, seeks your help in this first-ever national survey for understanding the impact of raising children on legal careers. We are seeking participation by men and women, both with and without children.
 
Your participation will contribute to understanding how different policies and practices can help lawyers with children navigate their careers, and how employers can create better workplace cultures that benefit all lawyers.
 
Please complete the Survey by September 28 at 11 p.m. Eastern/10 p.m. Central/9 p.m. Mountain/8 p.m. Pacific time.
Blog readers can circulate this survey in their networks to help capture this important survey data. 
 

September 12, 2022 in Women lawyers, Work/life | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, March 28, 2022

Shanta Trivedi on "Supreme Mom Guilt" in Ms. Magazine

Shanta Trivedi writes for Ms. Magazine The Supreme Mom Guilt is Real: Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson and Motherhood. 

The struggles of employed motherhood in a society that is not built to support mothers (formal wage-earners or stay-at-home moms) has been documented time and again. But, in many ways, what Jackson was expressing is unique to Black women. Black women have historically been more likely to be a part of the workforce than their white counterparts. Black women and other women are color are also more likely to do work that supports white women’s ability to work outside the home, such as caregiving and housecleaning. And, for many Black women, they are the “only” of both their gender and race at work, putting even more pressure on them in already complicated work settings where they regularly face microaggressions, harassment or blatant misogynoir—the toxic, combined discrimination against Black females.

* * *

All mothers feel pressure to be perfect and the judgment that they face is real, but Black mothers face a microscope unlike no other, particularly when compared to the upper-middle class white version of Pinterest and Etsy-fueled parenting. In the midst of an exercise designed to scrutinize her and her life, despite her perfect resume, she highlighted her perceived imperfection as a parent. But perhaps there is no better evidence to the contrary than from her own children. 

March 28, 2022 in Courts, Judges, Women lawyers, Work/life | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, January 17, 2022

Stereotypes, Sexism, and Superhuman Faculty

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

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

* * * 

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

 * * *  

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

 

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

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

Tuesday, January 4, 2022

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

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

By: Amanda M. Fisher

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

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

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

Monday, November 22, 2021

Internal Report on Culture and Processes at TIME'S UP

TIME'S UP just published Phase 1 of its report prepared by an independent consultant making "recommendations, tools, and plans that examine its structure, processes and culture.” The publication provides critical insights into the trajectory of the organization, a few of which are excerpted here:

  • "In its urgency to pursue a very noble vision, TIME’S UP’s mission and operational model was  largely undefined for some time. It grew rapidly, often chasing the short-term, important  issues of the day versus tracking activities back to the larger or longer-term strategic vision.  In so doing, the organization would be experienced by some of its employees and many  stakeholders as distracted or unfocused."
  • "While the fallout of the pandemic can in no way be blamed for TIME’S UP’s current state of crisis, it is still important  to acknowledge that it did have some effect on the overall functioning of the organization during the past two years and may have exacerbated existing structural/internal issues." 
  • "[I]nterviewees identified “conflicts of interest,” to use their words, that now seem readily apparent in certain professional and personal relationships (previous and/or  existing) maintained by the board chair, the CEO, and other board members."
  • "TIME’S UP has been negatively impacted by a perception of Democratic partisanship. Some questioned the  organization’s capacity to hold all accused of wrongdoing to the same standards of  accountability as well its ability to provide a consistent space for all accusers to come forward."  

The full report is available here. TIME'S UP's mission is to "create a society free of gender-based discrimination in the workplace and beyond. We want every person — across race, ethnicity, religion, sexuality, gender identity, and income level — to be safe on the job and have equal opportunity for economic success and security."

November 22, 2021 in Equal Employment, Violence Against Women, Work/life, Workplace | Permalink | Comments (0)