As a soon-to-be-tenured female faculty member, I have been watching the news of recent law school dean appointments at Connecticut, UNLV, IU-Indy, and Northern Kentucky with interest. Three points stand out among all the announcements. First, these candidates are all distinguished and deserving candidates. [My own institution, IU-Indy, is fortunate to have Andy Klein at the helm to make some difficult decisions that lie ahead.] Second, one must have a certain degree of courage to agree to guide legal education in this time of change and challenge. Finally, one cannot help but notice that all of the appointments are male.
I cannot help but wonder if the source of this gender disparity is the fact that women are relucant to take the helm of institutions where there may be inadequate resources or a faculty culture that is resistant to change. Or is the problem that the key decision-makers don’t believe that women have the leadership credentials to manage schools in difficult times? I do find it difficult to believe that in 2013, women are still regularly excluded from the leadership ranks of law schools. Of course, the empiricists will point out that there is a problem with a sample size of only four. But my problem with this particular sample size is that it conveys the impression that women are continuing to be shut out at the top ranks of legal academia.
Because of issues of confidentiality, we will never know whether any of the female candidates brought back for campus interviews for these positions selected to make the process look fair on the surface or whether they were “real” candidates that were the subject of true deliberation. It would be helpful to know how many women applied for each of these jobs and how much consideration did they receive. Finally, if experience as an associate dean is the required gateway to a deanship, do certain law schools stand out in terms of the number of women they have appointed to associate dean positions. Do others lag behind?
-Shawn Marie Boyne