Paul L. Caron

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Ann Bartow's Advice for Erwin Chemerinsky: Build Gender Equity Into UC-Irvine

Continuing our series of responses from various legal luminaries to the question:  What is the single best idea for reforming legal education you would offer to Erwin Chemerinsky as he builds the law school at UC-Irvine?

Bartow_3Ann M. Bartow (Associate Professor of Law, University of South Carolina School of Law; Editor, Feminist Law Professors blog):

Building on Paul Butler's words, I’d suggest making at least half your founding faculty female. (Since one longstanding tenet of feminism is “the personal is political” I hope it's okay to note that your law professor spouse would be an excellent first hire!). Tenure gets the blame for gender imbalances on the faculties at most existing law schools, but you have plenty of open slots to fill. I'd imagine you'll do a fair amount of lateral hiring. Don’t feel guilty about depleting the already tiny ranks of tenured female law professors of elite schools like Yale. I hope you won't be afraid to also consider smart, productive women at less prestigious law schools (though I'd appreciate it if you didn't poach any of my South Carolina colleagues). Establish a world class law school where women hold up half the sky. This will pressure other law schools to follow suit, especially once you start drawing the most talented female students to Irvine. In a more women-friendly environment than the typical law school, female students are more likely to reach their full academic potential. Someday you can hire them!

Once you've got a large cohort of female faculty members, resist game playing and make sure women faculty and staff are compensated as well as the men. Focus on scholarship quality, rather than on where articles are placed, keep teaching evaluations in perspective, and avoid making female law professors do disproportionate amounts of service.

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I would also suggest extending tenure clocks for all faculty who want to take parental leave--or at least, stopping and then re-starting the tenure clock. Also, don't take the view that having a baby means that the fe/male prof will use their sabbatical year to write that great book and raise their child. Don't pretend to not count the gap in the tenure clock against the one who takes parental leave--seriously, the clock is to stop and start again. Go beyond the standard FMLA 12-weeks leave or academic "one semester" rule, and make parental and family care leave available to both male and female faculty.

Posted by: Belle Lettre | Sep 26, 2007 4:40:57 PM

"I hope it's okay to note that your law professor spouse would be an excellent first hire!"

Is this a serious suggestion? It would seem the last thing a new dean needs is a reputation for nepotism.

Posted by: Nemo Dat | Sep 26, 2007 10:07:01 AM

We ought to give proper attribution (and quotation marks) when quoting. It was Mao Tse Tung who said "Women hold up half the sky", and it remains a common Chinese Marxist exhortation.

Posted by: guy in the veal calf office | Sep 26, 2007 9:22:23 AM

Okay, if we combine Paul Butler's advice with Ann Bartow's, then we can finally have a law school with only Black Female professors. Sprinkle in a few of Gordon Smith's tips, and we can ensure the law students of tomorrow learn nothing about what it means to practice law. Now that's the perfect law school!!

Posted by: greg | Sep 26, 2007 8:57:16 AM