Say It Ain’t So, UC Davis

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I received in today’s mail UC Davis School of Law’s glossy brochure announcing the school’s “New Faculty Members & Endowed Chairs and Professorships.” The Dean’s Message proudly proclaims,

[T]he School now has six endowed Chairs and Professorships. These Chairs and Professorships, and the generous donors who have made them possible, are critical to recruiting and retaining excellent faculty. The holders of five Chairs and Professorships are listed in this brochure. The new recipient for the sixth Chair and Professorship will be announced this fall.

The professors are (from left to right) Floyd Feeney, Cruz Reynoso, Edward Imwinkelried, Kevin R. Johnson and Robert W. Hillman. Congratulations to these professors, Dean Perschbacher and the entire Davis community.

The first thing that struck me about the brochure is that all 5 of the announced Endowed Chairs and Professorships are held by men. I know we’re supposed to be past the days of “counting heads,” but sometimes lack of gender diversity stares right up from the page.

My rough calculation based on the brochure’s faculty list is that Davis has 8 tenured female faculty members (out of 43 total faculty members listed).

What does it say about an institution if all of its named chairs/professorships are held by men? It could be a coincidence; it could indicate that women lack status in the law school. It could mean both nothing or everything, but the data at least should be a beginning (or continuing) point for conversations about women’s equality.

-Bridget Crawford

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0 Responses to Say It Ain’t So, UC Davis

  1. Ann Bartow says:

    The chair holders all have impressive records, but dang, there are some terrific women on that faculty too.

  2. star2007 says:

    There are fabulous women on the faculty! Check them out at:http://www.law.ucdavis.edu/faculty/index.shtml

    I’ve heard that Davis will be undertaking a dean search this year, so all of the fabulous feminists should apply.

  3. star2007 says:

    There are many incredible women on the faculty! I personally have taken coursework with West, Pruitt, Ikemoto, Joh, Chacon, and Shestowsky and they’re all fabulous. I understand the school will be searching for a new dean soon, so all of the fabulous feminist law professors should apply.

  4. Ann Bartow says:

    The problem is, when all the chairs go to men like this, the pretty clear message is, “don’t bother applying.”

  5. mi says:

    I don’t know that it’s fair to look at 5 faces and then make a conclusion about a whole school and its hiring practices. 3 of these professors really are phenomenal. The other 2 happen to be Latino, though I don’t think I’d make any conclusions about adequacy of diversity at Davis or among the faculty based solely on the fact that 2 of these guys are Latino, either.

    I know that the composition of this group means a lot because, as you say, it sends a message. You make a good point there. I do take issue, however, with your conclusion about what this means about UC Davis’s overt or tacit policies / hiring practices.

    It’s probably fair to fault Davis for not having more female endowed professors, however, you’re really faulting Davis 15-20 years ago, not Davis today. As star2007 emphasized, there are a number of good or great female professors at UC Davis. I would like to add, btw, Sunder, Kurtz, and Johns to the list – all among the very best teachers at the school. The number of female professors at Davis right now (and I haven’t counted to verify this) seems to me to be large and growing. I would not be surprised if women made up the majority of professors at Davis under age 40. On the other hand, there must be relatively few female professors at UC Davis over 55.

    Of the people who could get these endowed positions, those most eligible and deserving would likely tend to be the school’s oldest professors, who tend to be the best professors, probably based on the extent of their experience. The only professors in the endowed group who are not clearly “old guard” at Davis are Reynoso (a former CASC justice whose tenure at UCD is shorter than others because he came from UCLA) and Johnson (the current Dean of the school). There are various reasons why these 2 were selected that have nothing to do with their gender per se.

    One can ask, however, why Johns, Kurtz, and West were not included, as they have been at the school so long or why Johns was denied a professorship for so many years despite the fact that she’s an outstanding teacher and virtually an icon of the school. There may be some good points there about current inequality, but the process behind these decisions is something I don’t know anything about. Plus, it’s also fair to ask why Wolk and Dobris, Davis’s two best teachers, aren’t on the list of endowed profs, either. I think that there are quite a lot of politics beneath the surface, but the fact is this:

    If you look at Davis’s older professors, there are very few women to pick from – and this probably does reflect a sad truth about both UCD and (even more) the legal profession 20 or so years ago. If you look at the current faculty, however, the composition is more diverse in multiple ways, including in terms of both gender and race. I think that if the composition of this group of elite professors doesn’t change in the next decade, that really will reflect something negative about today’s UC Davis Law School. In the meantime, in the absence of evidence of intentional discrimination, I think it’s unfair to jump to conclusions because the “older and wiser” professors of UC Davis really are overwhelmingly male right now. That’s not to say that we shouldn’t be concerned with this issue. We really should watch carefully and, as you do, pay attention to whether women make it all the way to the top. If the numbers of women moving through the legal profession meant something all by itself, we would expect this profession to be dominated by women in the next 20 years… but again (as with the 100% male group of 5 professors), the raw numbers only mean so much. Though most of the people coming into the legal profession are women, a lot of women nonetheless seem to never make it into top legal positions these days. We will have to wait to see whether the relatively large number of women who have come to UC Davis to teach make it into the elite positions like these in the coming years.

  6. mi says:

    If you look at Davis’s older professors, there are very few women to pick from – and this probably does reflect a sad truth about both UCD and (even more) the legal profession 20 or so years ago. If you look at the current faculty, however, the composition is more diverse in multiple ways, including in terms of both gender and race. I think that if the composition of this group of elite professors doesn’t change in the next decade, that really will reflect something negative about today’s UC Davis Law School. In the meantime, in the absence of evidence of intentional discrimination, I think it’s unfair to jump to conclusions because the “older and wiser” professors of UC Davis really are overwhelmingly male right now. That’s not to say that we shouldn’t be concerned with this issue. We really should watch carefully and, as you do, pay attention to whether women make it all the way to the top. If the numbers of women moving through the legal profession meant something all by itself, we would expect this profession to be dominated by women in the next 20 years… but again (as with the 100% male group of 5 professors), the raw numbers only mean so much. Though most of the people coming into the legal profession are women, a lot of women nonetheless seem to never make it into top legal positions these days. We will have to wait to see whether the relatively large number of women who have come to UC Davis to teach make it into the elite positions like these in the coming years.