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April 13, 2012


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This is definitely something no one seems to want to talk about. I don't quite understand why since it is clearly an issue with salience for many law profs (including myself) - and is undeniably relevant to how we are currently repopulating our ranks each year.


Some of this discussion is fairly breathtaking. Minorities and women enter the academy - still in 2012 - in the context of a long history of discrimination, explicit and implicit, legally sanctioned and informally practiced. There is no such context or historical backdrop for white males. If, all other things being equal, a hiring committee wants to try to rectify a gross imbalance in the representativeness of its faculty it may result in offers first to a minority candidate who has equivalent credentials, experience, etc. as a non-minority candidate. Of course the difficulty is in the "all things being equal" requirement. It may be very difficult for someone who has been passed over to see that the candidate who was preferred was in fact superior in some aspects - particularly since candidates don't see the interviews of other candidates. I can't say what other schools do, but I can say that we have always striven to get the best possible faculty as well as a diverse faculty. As it happens (not surprisingly given their representation in the pool of eligible candidates) in the last few years most of those candidates have been white males. But most of the candidates we did not ask for a callback were also white males. That does not mean that those candidates were discriminated against because they were white males (or for any other reason). White males make up the majority of applicants. I suspect, but cannot know for sure, that some of those who "confidentially" tell candidates that they will not be selected because they are white males, are (a) incorrect (that is they don't represent the committee or its practices) and (b) are saying this because of their own perception that attempting to redress centuries of discrimination and under-representation and assembling a faculty that is more reflective of the society at large is an illegitimate enterprise. (And this is an appalling breach to talk this way to a candidate by the way.) I suppose we will soon know more about what this Court considers acceptable actions in regard to attempting to redress historic discrimination, but I think we are far away from having to worry that white males are being unfairly discriminated against in the market for law teaching. And it is *fewer* law professors and *less* time.


You are right, job seekers don't see the other interviewees, but I, as a tenured track professor, do. And at both schools I have worked for, the discrimination against white males was not only clear, but those discriminating did not even try hard to hide it. All you have to do is look at the assistant law profesor ranks. Find me a white male, assistant professor at a decent school who was not a "rock star" by the criteria that matters - publications, clerkships, law school, law review board, etc. For every one, I will find you multiple female/minority assistant law profs with worse stats. Also, I am sorry, not all of those female/minority profs are much better teachers than the white males who were not hired. Plus, let us admit it, teaching is not what most hiring decisions are based on in the legal academy. Finally, those high ranked law schools and prestigious judges are actually reverse discriminating now. So, at the very least, minorities/females should not have room to complain if law schools started judging solely on the merits.

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