Thursday, May 31, 2012
Dan Subotnik (Touro), Do Law Schools Mistreat Women? Or. Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, 44 Akron L. Rev. 867 (2011):
After many years of invisibility, women are now prominent in all domains of law school life. They represent more than two-thirds of legal writing faculty and an ever-increasing percentage of deanships, now 23%. More important, they make up 49% of new tenure track faculty (a rate equal to their proportion as law school graduates), and apparently even have a substantial edge over men with equal credentials in getting these jobs. Thereafter, women faculty members are promoted at a rate that may be higher than that of men.
Do these data support the claim that for “both new and senior women faculty, gender bias is still a major fact of life” and should it concern the rest of us that, as Professor Richard Neumann has lamented, “women will not make up 40% of the professoriate until 2017 given the slow rate of women’s gains in law school employment”?
In evaluating this last question, the alternatives are worth considering. Should faculty men be pushed out to make room for women? Should men be removed from hiring pools? Those unhappy with current state of affairs dare not face the obvious implications. Some commentary may therefore be helpful. Firing faculty men, however beneficial in terms of gender proportionality, would start a war from which the academy would never recover. All-out struggle is, admittedly, not necessarily a bad idea. But is that what critics want? Giving a woman a leg up, moreover, is unfair to the innocent man searching for his own toe hold and is of no use to the woman who reached for the ladder twenty years ago only to have it pulled away. It will also raise troublesome questions about the qualifications of women who get tenure-track jobs. If there is no realistic alternative, would it not be better to allow law schools the freedom to decide who belongs on top and who on the bottom based on their own notions of merit? ...
I bring good news, and from a venerable source. Not mandating simply that we love our enemies,—a pill that gender critics discussed here would surely find hard to swallow—Jewish tradition is both pragmatic and morally transformative. It suggests that if women faculty can only agree that the moral standing of their male colleagues is at worst, ambiguous—at this point—, love can and perhaps should fill our law schools. Love? Yes, love. “Better,” Jewish tradition teaches, “to love in error than to hate in error.”