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Editor: Paul L. Caron, Dean
Pepperdine University School of Law

Monday, April 3, 2017

If It’s A New Law Dean, It’s Likely A Woman

National Law Journal, If It’s a New Law Dean, It’s Likely a Woman:

March has been a good month for women law deans. Six of the eight new law deans appointed this month are women, with a seventh taking on an interim dean role for the coming academic year. As of now, well over half of the new deans taking the reins starting this summer are women—an unusual development given the long-standing dominance of men in the top job on law campuses. ...

“I think it’s corrective,” said Tracy Thomas, a professor at the University of Akron School of Law who edits the Gender and the Law Prof Blog. “In other words, the current population of law deans is 30 percent women. Our current students are 50 percent women, as are the associate law dean ranks. The leadership needs to be representative of society.”

An increase in the percentage of women associate deans at law school over the past decade has been key to expanding the pool of women candidates with the experience to lead law schools, Thomas added. The number of women heading up law schools has risen slowly since the late 1990s, when there were a mere 14. That growth accelerated in recent years. By 2015, 59 women were serving as dean—30 percent of the county’s more than 200 law schools.

Some academics have speculated that more opportunities are opening up for women because the job of law dean has become more difficult as of late, and more men are avoiding the headaches of running a law school. Many law schools are under increasing financial and enrollment pressures at a time when the entry-level legal job market remains stagnant and bar passage rates are declining.

Gender Law Prof Blog: New Women Law School Deans, by Tracy Thomas (Akron)

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The "leadership must be representative of society"? In specific proportions to a supposedly coherent interest or identity group's membership? An alternative view. How about in this period of crisis in American law schools, the legal profession and our failing democratic society, the leadership must have the skills and experience to cope with a complex array of challenges. That could mean the right individual is a woman. Or it could even be a man. BUT this is a time for the very best talented and experienced and strategic people and gender doesn't have a thing to do with it--male or female. If 75-85% of US law schools are basing dean appointments on gender then they are unbelievably stupid. If they are assuming that a well-published scholar has the insight, orientation or experience needed then they are also missing the point.

Posted by: David | Apr 3, 2017 2:56:18 PM

Somewhat more cynically, It could also mean that men are pushing women into administrative jobs and keepin the fun part of the academy for themselves. Just a thought.

Posted by: mike livingston | Apr 3, 2017 9:35:43 PM