For Men in the Legal Academy Who Want to Help Fight Sexism

Men in the legal academy, if you want to help fight sexism…

…do cite good scholarship by women. Empirically survey your own footnotes before sending in that manuscript….don’t accept invites to speak on panels without racial and gender balance. Ask the question before accepting….do call out other men who speak over women in faculty meetings.

…do ask each law review that offers to publish your article about the racial and gender balance of the authors the journal has published in the last five years.

…do advocate for key committee leadership by women of all colors, men of all colors and other minority groups. Faculty hiring might look a wee bit different.

…do look at racial and gender salary disparities on your own faculty, if the information is publicly available. Ask questions. In. Front. Of. Everyone.

…don’t close your office door fully when meeting with any students, especially women.  In confidential situations, draw the door partially closed and speak quietly.

…don’t date students.  If you respect women, men, and yourself, you can wait until after graduation.

…don’t call on a female student to give the “woman’s perspective;” don’t call on a student of color to give the “black/brown/Asian/other” perspective.  No one speaks for an entire group. No one student should carry the burden of educating the rest of the class. You’re the teacher.

…don’t wait for a student to raise issues of gender, race, class, sexuality.  Lead by example and signal that these issues can be important.

…when teaching Crim Law, do remember that there are rape survivors in your classroom.  They are not snowflakes; they are strong; but be considerate.

…don’t comment on any student’s appearance.  If the student needs some friendly advice about what is or is not appropriate clothing for class or interviews, there’s a Dean of Students for a reason.

…do instruct moot court judges that they are not to comment on students’ appearances. If there are concerns that could hurt the student’s career, rely again on the Dean of Students, not the moot court judges, to convey the info.

…don’t call a mixed-gender group of staff or students “guys” (e.g., don’t say, “Have the guys in the IT department check your computer,” when there are women who work in the IT department, too.)

…do object to the use of the word “guys” to refer to a mixed-gender group of students, colleagues, staff (e.g., “Those guys did a great job”). Your vocal objection to the use of “guys” in a case like this would be a rare instance in which “mansplaining” is welcome, especially to other men. Don’t make it women’s work to be the ones who remind everyone else of the importance of gender-neutral language. Your school may even have a policy on it.

These suggestions are compiled and modified from tweets sent by me via @FeministLawPrfs earlier this month.

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