Progress and Backlash in our Unequal Profession
21 Pages Posted: 7 Jun 2022
Date Written: 2022
Over the past two years, we have collectively suffered through a global pandemic, ongoing attacks on Black Americans (despite protests supporting Black Lives Matter), challenges to American democracy, increasing anti-Asian hate crimes, ongoing family separation at the border, and other forms of trauma. My book, Unequal Profession: Race and Gender in Legal Academia, was published in February 2019. It has lived through interesting times. In tandem with the aforementioned ordeals, there has also been progress on issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion. A growing body of scholarship now draws attention to inequities and offers solutions; law schools have organized conferences and initiated campus-wide efforts to facilitate greater inclusion. Yet, accompanying this headway has been backlash that pushes against the very values steeped within my book: Critical Race Theory (CRT) and anti-racism, the scientific method, and support for women. As we celebrate our successes and continue moving toward improved outcomes in legal education, we must also attentively guard against negative responses that threaten to erode our progress and push us further from equity.
This Essay draws attention to the positives. Part I outlines advancements that have been made since Unequal Profession was first published, highlighting three particular areas of progress: increased scholarship on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in legal academia; the proliferation of conferences and workshops focused on solutions to inequities in law teaching; and the specific interest of law schools to improve faculty recruitment and retention efforts. Each of these efforts signals progress as we work together to achieve a more equal profession. This very Symposium on Unequal Profession is evidence of that progress. Yet, there has also been backlash. In Part II, I turn to the anti-CRT, anti-science, and anti-woman rhetoric and actions that could quickly erode the progress we have made if we do not vigilantly protect our hard-fought victories and push for greater diversity, equity, and inclusion both within and beyond legal academia. Part III concludes with considerations for the road ahead.
Keywords: CRT, legal education, empirical research, DEI, academia
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