Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Devil in a pantsuit or the demonization of Hillary Clinton

Thanks to another fem legal theory alum for forwarding the link to this piece by Julia Keller about you know who . . . HRC. I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

What was/is the role of gender in Clinton's probable defeat?

Jodi Kantor's story in the NYT asks the tough question. What do you think are the answers?

Friday, May 16, 2008

"Misogyny I Won't Miss"

See this item by Marie Cocco from The Washington Post. Yep, you guessed it from the headline. It's about the waning days of the Democratic nominating contest. Thanks to a class alum for sharing this.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Major study of gender and the legal profession

Gender and the Legal Profession: The Michigan Alumni Data Set 1967-2000.

Here's the abstract, which I just saw on SSRN. The authors are Kenneth Dau-Schmidt, Marc Galanter, Kaushik Mukhopadhaya, and Kathleen Hull. Note, in particular, their findings on work-life issues.

In this study, we use the University of Michigan Law School Alumni Data Set to undertake an empirical analysis of the impact of gender on the legal profession and the differences that gender makes in the careers and lives of attorneys. With regular survey responses from Michigan alumni from 1967 until the present, the University of Michigan Law School Alumni Data Set provides a unique opportunity to examine these questions from the days when female attorneys were rare, to the arrival of the first generation of women to achieve significant presence in the legal profession. The limitation of the Michigan data set is that it covers only University of Michigan alumni, a diverse but relatively elite swath of the legal profession. To act as a check on our analysis and to guide our interpretation of the results, we conducted focus group discussions of our findings with groups of female and male attorneys and collected similar data on Indiana University law alumni to test our primary results.

The entry of women into the legal profession has forever changed both lawyers and the legal profession. Women have brought to the profession a different set of assets and problems than men. Although there is of course tremendous overlap in personal characteristics between the genders, on average the women report that they are more desirous of social change, compassionate, honest and liberal than the men. On the other hand the men report that they have a greater desire for money and are more confident, better dealmakers and more aggressive than the women. Moreover, because of their different roles in courtship and the family, men and women lawyers tend to have different family characteristics and tend to address the problem of accommodating work and family in different ways. The men are more likely to be married, have a spouse who focuses on childcare and have more children while the women are more likely to have a spouse with an intense job and enjoy much higher spousal income. In balancing productivity in the workplace and the home, the men work 32.7% more hours outside the home than the women fifteen years out of law school while by this same time the women are more than twelve times as likely to have taken time off from paid work to do childcare. Among the 3.2% of men and 39.6% of women who have either not worked or worked part time to do childcare by fifteen years out of law school, the average number of months they have taken reduced paid work to do childcare is 23 for the men and 58 for the women - or almost 5 years! Over the course of the last thirty years, it appears that the type of woman who enters the legal profession has shifted to one who is more family-oriented since the average number of children the women have has increased, as has the percent who take time away from paid work to do childcare and the period of time they commit to childcare, while the average number of hours in paid work done by women has decreased.

These differences in personal and family characteristics, and in particular whether the attorney takes time away from paid work to do childcare, can have an enormous impact on a person's career. Reflecting their different levels of desire for money and social change, and their different commitments to childcare, men are more likely to go into private practice and business, while women are more likely to go into corporate counsel positions, government work, public interest work and legal education. Despite these general trends, women have shown an equal propensity to go into practice in the largest firms, perhaps because these firms are viewed as more dependable in accommodating childcare early in a woman's career. Within practice, men are disproportionately drawn to specialties and activities that yield high income while women are drawn to specialties and activities that yield predictable and lower hours. On average, men with children who have not taken time away from paid work to do childcare work the most hours in a year (2520) followed by men and women who do not have kids (2341), men who have taken time away from paid work to do childcare (2092), women with kids who have not taken time away from paid work to do childcare (1908) and women who have taken time away from paid work to do childcare (1328). Even among partners in private firms women work significantly less hours a year (2314) then men (2570), with women who have taken time away from paid work to do childcare working the least (2008). Men are more likely to enter and stay in private practice, and to be a partner fifteen years after law school, but in taking account of family situation we find that men who have missed paid work to do childcare are the least likely group to remain in private practice and be a partner, followed by women who have missed paid work to do childcare. Interestingly, among women, women who have kids but who have not missed paid work to do childcare are the most likely to enter and remain in private practice, and make partner, even though they work significantly less hours than women without kids. Our logistic regression of the probability of being a partner shows an insignificantly negative effect for being a woman, but this effect is disproportionately borne by women who do childcare who suffer a disadvantage similar to that of men who do childcare.

This myriad of decisions and events over the course of their careers results in significant differences in income and career satisfaction between men and women. Although they begin the practice of law with only a small difference in their average income, by fifteen years after law school women on average earn significantly less a year ($132,170) than men ($229,529). However, our means and regression analysis suggest that, once again, the impact of lower income is disproportionately borne by women who do childcare, who suffer a disadvantage similar to that of men who do childcare. In our regression analysis, only women who have done childcare show a significantly negative impact on income and that impact is similar to the negative impact on income suffered by men who have done childcare. In our decomposition of the male female income gap we find that all of the observed difference in income can be explained by differences in hours and acquired assets between men and women. Men's primary advantages in assets are working more hours, doing less childcare, going into types of practice that yield higher income and having personal characteristics, primarily a greater desire for income, that yield higher income. Men's advantages in payments for certain activities in practice and being mentored are offset by women's advantages in higher payments for hours worked, entering certain types of practice, primarily large private practices, and getting good grades and doing summer clerkships. There are significant rewards for bright women who dedicate themselves to large firm practice forsaking childcare. However, the reward for women who do childcare is that they enjoy significantly higher career satisfaction and satisfaction with their work/family balance than the men, or the women who do not do childcare. The impact of childcare on men's career satisfaction is mixed and less clear, but men who do childcare do report being significantly more satisfied with their work/family balance than the men or women who have not missed paid work to do childcare.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Soldiers Say Porn Ban May Hurt Morale

I thought this article related to an earlier blog post might be of interest ...

Soldiers Say Porn Ban May Hurt Morale
Stars and Stripes Seth Robson May 05, 2008GRAFENWOHR, Germany -- Legislation that would restrict the sale of certain men's magazines on U.S. military bases around the world would be bad for morale, according to soldiers at Grafenwöhr. U.S. Rep. Paul Broun, R-Ga., has introduced legislation that would close a loophole in the current law that allows the sale of some sexually explicit material on military bases by lowering the threshold required to deem material "sexually explicit."A Department of Defense committee that reviews materials sold on bases ruled last year that magazines such as Playboy and Penthouse are not pornographic. But Broun's Military Honor and Decency Act includes language that could make those magazines eligible for the ban.The prospect of missing out on men's magazines was not welcomed by soldiers at Grafenwöhr."We all read 'em," said Pfc. Paul Rubio, 31, of Bakersfield, Calif. "There are times we just read 'em for the technological parts like the new gadgets that come out. They have good stories sometimes too."Sgt. Simon Brown, 34, of Daytona Beach, Fla., said men's magazines build morale. "It's not all about the pictures, although 80 percent of it is," he said.Pfc. Greg Smith, 21, of Northboro, Mass., a regular Playboy reader, said soldiers should be allowed to buy nudie magazines at the exchange. "Playboy is good entertainment while you are on the can. They have jokes and good stories," he said.Broun, a Marine veteran, told Newsweek recently that the magazines sold in military exchanges are partly responsible for a rise in sexual assaults in the military and other problems. "Allowing the sale of pornography on military bases has harmed military men and women by: escalating the number of violent, sexual crimes; feeding a base addiction; eroding the family as the primary building block of society; and denigrating the moral standing of our troops both here and abroad," Broun says on his Web site.The legislation would require the DOD to annually review material that is not currently deemed sexually explicit to determine if it should be prohibited, according to the Web site.Some soldiers say magazines that could be banned are particularly important downrange.Brown deployed to Afghanistan in 2002 and 2005 and is preparing to go to Iraq with the 12th Combat Aviation Brigade this summer. When he was in Afghanistan he was one of the first to pick up a new copy of Maxim or FHM when it came out, he said."It would suck if they ban it," he said. "It's bad enough we are down there to begin with. Taking that away would be like a knife in the chest. I'm not saying I'm depending on Maxim to keep me alive over there, but it helps."Publications such as Maxim and FHM are not named by Broun, but lowering the threshold of the sexually explicit definition might mean such magazines would be targeted for a ban.Some troops in the Pacific region said the proposed legislation would impinge upon their personal freedoms."They're making it a point of undermining soldiers to almost make them feel like we're back in elementary school," Pfc. Nickolas Sears said Friday at Camp Red Cloud, South Korea. "We're all adults here, and if it's something we want to do, we should feel free to choose as we please."Other than on base, there's no place in South Korea to buy magazines like Playboy, he said. "I believe it's a breach of freedom of speech," said Senior Airman Garrett Deese, 25, of Elk Grove, Calif., who just completed a tour with the 8th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron at Kunsan Air Base, South Korea.He said he wonders whether such a ban would lead to barring other types of magazines lawmakers chose to challenge. He also questioned whether Broun's link between magazines and sexual assaults within the military would stand close scrutiny.At Yokota Air Base, Japan, military spouse Roberta Woolley said she understands the need for balance between rules and individual rights, but said the military has tougher standards than the rest of American society."It's a good idea," she said of the proposed ban. "I think there's better literature out there.... In the military, we sell cigarettes and alcohol legally. But it's also questionable whether they promote a healthy lifestyle. "I've seen all these magazines, and they don't make men or women intelligent or beautiful. And even though they're hidden, there is still exposure to children as well. It's the parents' responsibility to give ideas about body awareness to their children. I don't think Mr. Hefner presents a positive image of men or women in his magazine." A female soldier at Grafenwöhr -- Sgt. Pou McCall, 23, of Riverside, Calif. -- said men's magazines don't bother her a lot, but she'd support a ban."What if it was their (soldiers') sisters (in the magazines)? It doesn't take a magazine for sexual harassment to happen but it increases it," she said.Army and Air Force Exchange service public relations manager Judd Anstey said AAFES sold $231,000 worth of Penthouse, Playboy and Playgirl magazines in Europe last year."Sales of these three titles account for 2.7 percent of total European magazine sales ($8.5 million) at AAFES facilities," he said.The sales accounted for 0.5 percent of worldwide AAFES magazine sales of $46.4 million, he said.Stars and Stripes' reporters Vince Little, Franklin Fisher and Erik Slavin contributed to this report

Scholarships for female students doing public intereste work

Here's the info from Ms. JD:
Working in public interest this summer without sufficient funding? Ms. JD is
awarding two $500 scholarships to female law students entering their second or
third year at an accredited U.S. law school and working the summer of 2008 at
least 35 hours per week for a minimum of 8 weeks at a government agency or
nonprofit organization. Unpaid judicial externs also qualify.

This year's essay topic asks applicants to discuss myths about being a law
student. Did you experience any pleasant surprises upon starting your study of
law? Did you learn any law school 'lessons' the hard way? Ms. JD wants to hear
about them. Applications are due no later than June 1. Recipients will be
notified no later than June 15.
For more information or to apply, visit this link.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Blogging as Feminist Legal Method

Just saw this abstract on the Social Science Research Network:
Legal scholars and academic commentators have long written about the ways in which close-knit communities of people employ extra-legal or non-legal methods to structure conflict, resolve disputes, and advocate for their rights and interests. From cattle ranchers to diamond merchants to third-wave feminists, scholars emphasize how groups of people opt out of the legal system and instead use personalized and informal methods of rights assertion as a means of overcoming the ineffectiveness of state-sponsored laws, and because they reject the law as a viable means of achieving change. Similar to cattle ranchers and diamond traders, a growing number of women lawyers have developed their own method of rights assertion and conflict resolution that does not involve turning to the legal system. Despite the cottage industry of articles, books, and reports describing gender inequality in the legal profession, few, if any, have focused on what women lawyers are actually doing to address the challenges and grievances they face in the workplace, and to increase the proportion of women in leadership positions in the profession. Based on a detailed, empirical analysis of women lawyers in law firms, this Article argues that similar to cattle ranchers and diamond traders, a growing number of women lawyers have rejected the law as a viable means of personal advocacy and are instead, using blogging - an alternative, informal and impersonal form of engagement - to advocate for their rights and interests in the workplace. One would expect that women lawyers, when confronted with unfair hiring practices, unequal pay, or unjust choices, would turn to the legal system. They are legally trained and undoubtedly immersed in the law, and therefore, one might presume that they are particularly attentive to legal rights and predisposed to think of personal grievances in a legal framework. Nonetheless, a growing group of women lawyers are using the Internet - and, in particular, blogging - to resolve their disputes, address their personal grievances, challenge implicit male bias engrained in the profession, and share and obtain the information they need to become stronger bargainers in the workplace.
The article's author is Alison Stein of the University of Pennsylvania. Her abstract reminded me of an email I received from one of you yesterday in response to my email to all alums (that original email, of course, being about blogging as feminist legal method!). She said her firm (a large national one; she is in the LA office) has a women's group, in which she participates. It made me wonder how all of you deal with gender issues at your firms/offices/workplaces? How do your employers deal with them? What informal strategies are used to keep people happy and resolve disputes?