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April 13, 2012


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"Less credit is given to good teaching or service to institution (both typically associated with women)." Wow, that's a really sexist claim.

Jacqueline Lipton

In what way is it sexist, anon?
As there are less women in academia than men statistically, women do tend to be over-represented on committees etc which takes up more of their time and generally isn't weighted as highly in promotion and tenure decisions. (This is the same for minorities.)
So if women spend more time doing things that are less valued and have less time to spend on things that are more valued, why is it a sexist claim?
It might be a sexist claim if you interpreted it as asserting that women were better teachers or administrators than men - I haven't seen any evidence that such a claim would be true - but I don't think that's what's being said here. I think the claim is that women spend more time than men on things that are less heavily weighted in salary and promotion decisions. And this isn't a novel claim at all. This point has been made before with respect to both women and minorities.


I believe the suggestion made in the original post is that women excel at teaching and service beyond the teaching and service of men.

You claim, "As there are less women in academia than men statistically, women do tend to be over-represented on committees etc which takes up more of their time and generally isn't weighted as highly in promotion and tenure decisions. (This is the same for minorities.)"

Do you have statistics or is this anecdotal evidence? If you have statistics, I would be very interested in knowing the source. If that's statistically true, I think it's reprehensible, and someone should expose the offending schools.

Speaking of anecdotal evidence, I know of a number of schools that no longer interview or seriously consider white male candidates, unless there are absolutely zero other options in the field. No one talks about that though. It's odd that the level playing field seems to mean instant equality, which in the long run will mean that white males are grossly underrepresented in the academia as the generation of white males who actually benefited from discrimination retire from the academy. Someone should expose these schools also, but no one will because that person would be denounced as a racist and sexist.



I find your claim of rampant bias against white males very hard to believe. If there are such schools out there, why don't you "expose" them? After all, you have the cloak of anonymity -- what is stopping you?


Anna, good point . . . I'll get to work on it and publish it anonymously. Thanks for the idea! I'm guessing you are probably either are blind to the fact that discrimination can happen to white males or you've decided it is a good thing. The fact that you can't conceive of a school in 200 ABA law schools that might discriminate against white males is remarkable. I can think of four institutions off the top of my head. Perhaps, you are right that it isn't "rampant," but your lack of sympathy for it shows your own bias.

Jacqueline Lipton

Anon - I think the claim was that women are over-represented in admin work, not that they're better than men at it. But I agree the wording in the post looks ambiguous.
There are lots of statistics out there re women and minorities being over-represented on committees in particular, the idea being that the committee is not 'representative' of the faculty if there aren't women or minorities on the committee, but of course there are less in the profession overall so the burden falls disproportionately on them.
Certainly, the ABA and AALS have done a lot of work on this and there are statistics available - I think you could get a fair amount of detail from the AALS committees on women and minorities. They do regular studies on these issues, and present regularly at annual meetings on these issues.
I also agree that sometimes it's difficult for white male candidates when law school appointments committees are being pressured to focus on diversity, and it's a very difficult balance to strike ie to find the best candidates, and ensure fairness to all applicants. It is illegal to discriminate in either direction, but different hiring committees face different pressures from the university, and the accreditation bodies from year to year.
I don't think that white males will be grossly underrepresented in legal academia in the future. I've seen no evidence that the problem is as stark as you suggest and I've had a lot of experience on appointments committees over the years. My own school has hired more white males than women and minorities in recent years, and I'm sure we're not alone.

Howard Wasserman

Put service aside for the moment (it is conceivable that the desire for some rough proportionality on committees places a greater burden on smaller numbers of women faculty). As to teaching the statement is pretty unambiguous: The post says that good teaching *and* service to the institution are "both typically associated with women". Is good teaching really "typically associated with women"? I've seen great women teachers and bad women teachers and everything in between, just as I've seen great male teachers and bad male teachers and everything in between. I don't instinctively connect gender to teaching quality. If anything, the statement also directly contradicts a common complaint about student evaluations (which, by the way, I find convincing at the margins): that women receive harsher or more negative evals because students find women either not authoritative enough (and thus not respected as "professors") or "bithcy".

As for changing scholarship standards, there are two different points there. The point about placement may be true (again, some empirical study would be possible). But I'm not sure why the second point is true--or more true for women than men. I have no reason to believe (nor have I experienced) that women who are committed to writing are systematically less able to write 3-5 articles in six years (roughly the tenure standard at most schools).

Paula Monopoli

Professor Lipton is correct that I am not making the claim that women are better teachers than men. The MSU conference explored the issue of why, if women have been graduating from law schools in significant numbers since the 1980s, we do not have parity in formal leadership positions in the various sectors of the profession. Some speakers addressed the lack of parity in private practice, some the judiciary and I focused on the legal academy. My talk explored why – given the pipeline has been full for almost thirty years - only twenty-five percent of full professors are women. The reasons I posit are complex and nuanced. The role of “scholar” is itself highly gendered and in the context of the ancient origins of the workplace we inhabit – the academy – it is associated with the masculine. The role of “teacher” is also gendered and is more closely associated with the feminine. Reason has historically been deemed a male attribute while nurture is more closely associated with the feminine.

So the explanations as to why women have met with friction in ascending to tenured, full faculty positions are embedded in ancient norms about who is a scholar. There are also conditions of the modern university that, while seemingly gender neutral, have a disparate impact on the ability of women – who are still disproportionately burdened with the work of social reproduction – to achieve the status of full professor and significant indicia of scholarly achievement like endowed chairs. These seemingly gender-neutral norms are constructed with the ideal scholar in mind – a person without caregiving responsibilities. Thus, norms and practices that appear neutral – like requiring a visit and then a year back at one’s home institution before receiving a competitive offer – disadvantage women, who as Joan Williams has noted, have partners who are less likely to be willing to follow a visiting spouse and who are often more concerned about the impact on their children such mobility may impose.

Norms about which kind of scholarship is more valuable reflect this gender hierarchy as well – thus the valorization of constitutional law and the devaluation of gender and family law. These signals are communicated to students on editorial boards who make selections accordingly. If where articles place is factored into promotions and rewards like chaired professorships, this is another apparently neutral norm which has a disparate effect on women who tend to write and teach more frequently in these areas of law.

Finally, many scholars have noted the increase in the amount of scholarship deemed necessary to predict that a young scholar is sufficiently committed to the enterprise to continue publishing in the future. The disproportionate responsibilities of caregiving combined with the tendency for women (and minorities) to be asked to do more institutional work and to be sought out by students more frequently for advice and support all combine with the increasing volume of scholarship to create barriers to women moving up the ranks to full faculty positions.

To the degree that one factor, scholarship, is weighted more heavily in tenure and promotions decisions, the conditions described above will tend to disadvantage women. This disadvantage also tends to explain the pay disparity between men and women, even when controlling for rank.

When looked at through the lens of historical context, gender norms and organizational theory, the fact that women make up only twenty-five percent tenured, full professors can be explained quite clearly. Whether and how we go about restructuring the academy to facilitate parity is the question I am exploring in this project.

Bridget Crawford

I have deleted the word "good" and the parentheses, as indicated in the post, in an effort to clarify. I did NOT understand Professor Monopoli to say that good teaching is associated exclusively with women, or that women are better teachers than men. I understood her to say that traditional faculty performance evaluations tend to give less weight to teaching and service than to scholarship.


Is there any evidence that women are denied tenure at a rate different from men? (Which, in the case of law schools, is very rare). Or post-tenure promotion or the award of chairs? I actually would not be surprised at the latter, considering women typically devote more time to childcare than men, but I am not aware of any study showing it.

And I cannot help but notice that fields like tax law and commercial law are, like family law, not much favored by the top law reviews, but I doubt this is due to any "gender hierarchy."

Alfred Brophy

I'm looking forward to reading more about this.

Changing the focus of conversation a little bit, might I suggest that someone use the publicly available salary data, which Dan Filler often links to (his posts are collected at the "faculty compensation" category on the left hand column of this blog) and try some simple correlations of compensation of faculty members with years in the academy, number of citations on westlaw (which I take to be a very rough approximation of scholarly importance -- also heavily influenced by years in the academy), and gender.

That's all easily available data. There are a lot of other important factors -- like teaching and service -- that aren't captured with those data. One might to add a variable for prestige of primary area of teaching (this is going to be pretty subjective). Taking up the point on teaching, I'd love to have a measure of that (teaching quality -- however that's measured -- and perhaps amount of teaching, like student credit hours), but I don't know how that could easily be obtained.


If women take on caregiving duties in higher proportions than men – how it is controversial that there are less female partners at law firms or less full female professors at law schools? It seems sensible that regardless of the metrics used to evaluate professionals (in this context, law professors), time worked tends to help with all of them. Said differently, law professors who work more tend to be able to publish more, put more time into their teaching, put more time into their service work, and thus be more successful as a professional. When I was practicing, I noted this dynamic (that the most successful partners tended to be those who worked all the time) and now that I am a law professor I see it too (I seem to recall reading something a year or two ago that discussed how some of the most prolific law professors are those who have no familial responsibilities). Why is it controversial that people working more tend to achieve more, and are paid more for that success?

Could it be that women are more "successful" in their homes and leading more fulfilling lives by investing in their families - and that they are less prone to pressures which would cause them to spend less time with their families to achieve more success outside the home? If so, why should we then insist on equal results outside of the home?

Also, as someone who went on the teaching market within the last few years, I would confirm the observations about how difficult it is to be hired as a white male. I was repeatedly told by members of appointments committees, privately, that it would be very difficult for me to receive a callback, get hired, or be voted #1 in the polling hierarchy since I was a white male. And lest there be any questions, I was told this explicitly and in no uncertain terms on many occasions. For every time I was actually told this, I can only assume there were 1 or 2 other places where this was true - but had the good sense not to tell me. So, setting aside whether there will be diminishing numbers of white males in legal academia 30 years from now, I wonder how this can be a good means for the ends of securing diversity.

Anon Female Attorney

Professor Lipton,

Could you share your school's doctrinal hiring statistics with regards to white males, women, and minorities for the past five years? I was curious about your statement that your school has hired more white males in recent years. I assume you are referring to doctrinal hiring and I found this information online from your school's recent hires and it does not appear that your school has hired more white male doctrinal professors recently.

In fact, it would appear that your school suffers from the same problem that is being discussed in this thread. I reviewed your school's faculty and it appears that if I listed the most recent hires that it would contain a disproportionate number of women and minorities in the last five years. I am specifically referring to doctrinal hiring as it appears this thread is focused on those positions.

Can you provide more specific information about this? As a female attorney, I am quite dismayed to read that so many white males are being told by hiring committees that they will not be considered seriously because of gender and race. I do not see the advancement of women as an opportunity to support discrimination against another group.


White males have an incredibly difficult time on the market. I am not going to "out" my school, but it appears that about 25% of our faculty refuses to vote for white male candidates. Period. They believe that our faculty is "out of balance" and refuse to vote for a non-minority/non-female candidate until our faculty reflects the society at large (not the pool of qualified canidates, but society). Of course our professors know, as Professor Lipton knows, that discrimination, in either direction, is illegal, so they try to hide their bias a bit. But they hide it very poorly. The same professors vote and speak out against every white male candidate, no matter how qualified. The rest of the professors seem to be trying to find the best fit for the school - all things considered. This is a real problem in academia and people should be talking about it at least as much as they are talking about the "discrimination" against minorities and females. Can you imagine a symposium on the struggles of a young white male in the academy? Or how how about a Workshop for Pretenured Caucasian Law School Teachers (See, the AALS workshop for "People of Color" June 23-24, 2012)? Personally, I would love to be a female or minority on the market or in the academy today. It seems like there is a program every month specifically aimed at helping you achieve your goals - if you are a minority or female. Maybe if female/minorities spent less time whining about their "plight" they could actually write more. Not a single female in the SSRN top ten.


Professor Lipton,

Your school could be discriminating even if your school has hired more white males than females/minorities. I don't know the exact numbers, but I have seen the AALS pool. I am guessing that 65% of the qualified candidates are white male (and that number might be low, depending on how you define "qualified"). Those white males are hired at a much lower rate than they deserve. At my school, we have only hired one white male in our last 7 or 8 hires, and that was in a subject area with very few females/minorities. And in that one case, we actually offered to a female first -- she turned us down for a higher ranked school. And yes, a number of professors still thinks we are "out of balance." Someone should compare the applicant pool and the hired pool. White males do much worse on average, I am sure. Those who do place, probably place lower than they "should."

White, male and on the market in 2012

Is it just me, or is someone whining about female/minority academics whining about their plight really, really funny?

Also, with respect to the substantive point of this commentary -- such as it is -- after a couple of articles, I've learned that you should always try to get a couple of women to agree to be outside readers. They tend to give you detailed and thoughtful comments (as if they've actually read the whole thing!), and usually in time to be useful. Men tend to be along the lines of "I know it's March 15, but in case you can still use this, I thought the paper was interesting, and here's one tangential point I would have made if I had written the same article."


LawProf, CWRU's last four entry-level tenure-track hires have all been white males (three hired last year, one this year).


That is interesting, but obviously a very small sample size. What about the two years before that? And I would be more interested in the numbers across the academy. To the white male on the market in 2012, good luck!

Anon Also

Anon, I think the earlier post was referring to doctrinal hiring specifically. CWRU has only hired two white male doctrinal entry-level candidates in the past two years, two non-white male lateral candidates, and two male clinical candidates.

However, lateral doctrinal hiring should be considered too. It has been my experience that white male lateral candidates also have a difficult time moving schools. I think they experience the same bias that is being discussed in this thread. If women want equality, then they should be willing to stand up against these discrimatory practices against white males in the academy.


Given the overwhelming number of comments regarding white male hiring in the academy, perhaps The Faculty Lounge bloggers should dedicate a separate blog post to the issue of discrimination towards white males. Clearly, several white males in the academy posted about their experiences with being told that their opportunities are limited because of both gender and race. It would benefit the academy as a whole if its members came forward with names of schools and faculties that have explicitly told them that discrimination against white males is alive and well (and acceptable). Maybe an equality scholar could dedicate an article to this topic?

I find great irony in the fact there is deafening silence from the women in this thread now that several white males have come forward with their stories about discrimination against them. The fact that law school faculties are practicing discrimination towards white males is abhorrent. When did law school professors decide that they did not have to follow anti-discrimination laws?

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