The Culture of “raceXgender” Bias in Legal Academia
While only 7% of legal academics are women of color, few scholars have investigated how this disparity may affect individual faculty or legal education as a whole. This chapter furthers this conversation with findings from the Diversity in Legal Academia (DLA) project. DLA is the first comprehensive multi-method study of American law faculty utilizing an intersectional (raceXgender) lens to examine challenges and opportunities facing women of color law professors from all stages of the career, across the United States, and from elite through more accessible schools. DLA includes both quantitative (survey) and qualitative (in-depth interview) data with tenured/tenure-track law professors at ABA-accredited and AALS-member schools. Because the focus of the study is on women of color law faculty, the core sample of participants includes Black, Latina, Asian/Pacific Islander, Middle Eastern, and Multiracial women. A comparative sample of white men, white women, and men of color is also included to provide contrast to the experiences of participants from the core sample. The chapter explores two interlocking themes: how a power structure emphasizing entrenched gender and racial norms results in women of color being presumed incompetent at work (by students and fellow faculty alike), and how the cultural expectation that these faculty members serve as caretakers becomes a barrier to their professional success. The conclusion considers both individual strategies and structural solutions to improve the experiences of non-traditional faculty, and thereby improve legal education overall.