New Article: Gabriela Steier, Womenomics for Nursing Growth: Making the Case for Work Time Flexibility and Mother-Friendlier Workplaces, 21 Buffalo Journal of Gender, Law & Social Policy 111 (2013). Abstract below:
Gender bias at work often coerces breastfeeding working mothers to choose between their baby or their job. The forced choice between private and work life irreconcilably separates motherhood from a woman’s career, giving rise to the Mommy Wage Gap and the Maternal Wall. Consequently, the separation of work and family life has negative impacts on both the mother and her child. These negative impacts also bear on public health and the economy on a large scale. The more unaccommodating workplaces are, the stricter the separation between work and family life and the more permanent the choice a working mother has to make. Such unaccommodating workplaces thus force breastfeeding working mothers to either wean their children too early or to opt-out. Thus, increasing work-time flexibility for working parents, and especially breastfeeding mothers, would allow working mothers to breastfeed their children for the recommended period of at least six months after birth. The current federal labor laws, the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), are insufficient in protecting breastfeeding-working mothers from the gender bias and aggravated work-life conflict. If more working mothers were able to breastfeed their babies for the recommended six months, the government could save public health care costs and use these savings for reinvestments to fuel economic recovery. By allowing working breastfeeding mothers to bring the private and public spheres closer together, and to thereby attain greater work-life life, businesses and companies will be empowered to increase efficiency, productivity, and eventually profitability. This paper evaluates some strategies to increase profitability by providing greater work-time flexibility.
New Article: Angela Littwin, Escaping Battered Credit: A Proposal for Repairing Credit Reports Damaged by Domestic Violence, 161 U. Penn. L. Rev. 363 (2013). Abstract below:
Debt and domestic violence are connected in ways not previously imagined. A new type of debt—which I have labeled “coerced debt”—is emerging from abusive relationships. Coerced debt occurs when the abuser in a violent relationship obtains credit in the victim’s name via fraud or coercion. It ranges from secretly taking out credit cards in victims’ names to coercing victims into signing loan documents to tricking victims into relinquishing their rights to the family home. As wide ranging as these tactics can be, one consequence consistently emerges: ruined credit ratings.
Coerced debt wreaks havoc on credit scores, which is particularly problematic because the use of credit reports is no longer confined to traditional lenders. Employers, landlords, and utility companies all make extensive use of credit scores when screening potential customers. Thus, a credit score that has been damaged by coerced debt can make it prohibitively difficult for victims to obtain employment, housing, or basic utilities—all of which are requirements for establishing an independent household.
In this Article, I propose amending the Fair Credit Reporting Act to allow victims of coerced debt to repair their credit reports. My proposal would enable family courts to rule on whether alleged coerced debt is, in fact, coerced. The victim could then submit the court’s certification to the credit reporting agencies, which would block the coerced debt from her credit report to the extent that the block did not unduly harm her creditors. My proposal would build a bridge between the deci-sionmakers already determining issues related to coerced debt and the credit reports that victims need to have reformed in order to move beyond the abuse.
Call for Symposium Papers: Gender Matters:Women, Social Policy and the 2012 Election. April 2, 2013 at American University Washington College of Law, Washington, DC
The American University Journal of Gender, Social Policy & the Law and Women and the Law Program invite papers for a symposium on gender, social policy and the election of 2012. The organizers welcome papers that explore how current or proposed social polices affect the lives of women and their families, and/or that analyze what role, if any, rhetoric about those polices may have played in the recent election. Abstracts from professors or practitioners (sorry, no student pieces) addressing gender and health care, labor and employment, taxation, fiscal policy and social welfare or other relevant social policy are due by midnight January 7, 2013. Papers selected will be presented at a symposium on April 2, 2013 at American University Washington College of Law, and strongly considered for publication. To read the full Call for Papers and to submit an abstract online, please visit the symposium website. Please contact the organizers at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.
New Article: Bridgette Baldwin, Shadow Works and Shadow Markets: How Privatization of Welfare Services Produces an Alternative Market, 34 Western New England L. Rev. 445 (2012). Abstract below:
The Author attempts to fuse Ivan Illich’s misplaced ideas of gender roles with how privatization of welfare services has legitimized a shadow economy and work through mandated community service jobs. The Article provides a historical perspective of how social services were handled, leading to the current cost/benefit legacy of welfare privatization utilized by the Wisconsin Works program (W-2). Wisconsin’s program requires women recipients to engage in volunteer work, creating a subsidized labor force for private agencies based on the presumption that work, even meaningless and menial tasks, establishes job-readiness for women on welfare. The Author suggests that we need to begin thinking about how to recreate the framework for providing public services. The community service component of W2 and its actual function powerfully demonstrates how W-2 mothers have become a reserve labor force. But at the same time the contours of W-2 make reserve labor status profitable, not for the mothers, but for the sub-contracted agencies. The relationship between W-2 mothers, the status of community service, and the position of sub-contracted agencies have generated a shadow market as a consequence of welfare privatization. The ways in which these women are held captive to a world without work, a world without skill building, and limited ways out become the grounds upon which sub-contracting agencies generate profit. Under the shroud of “cost effectiveness,” private agencies are reaping the financial windfall of “pimping” the state based on their ability to market their skills at converting welfare mothers into low-wage workers.
Symposium Articles Published: UCLA Law Review, “Overpoliced and Underprotected: Women, Race, and Criminalization.”
-Thanks to Concurring Opinions Blog for the heads up!
New Article: Nancy Leong, Is Marriage for Rich People? A Book Review of Ralph Richard Banks’s Is Marriage for White People?, 44 Conn. L. Rev. 1311 (2012). Abstract below:
Blacks have the lowest marriage rate of any racial group in America, and black women are more than three times as likely as white women to never to marry. Ralph Richard Banks’ monograph Is Marriage for White People? provides a searching inquiry into the condition of black singleness. He argues that, as the result of a shortage of “eligible” black men, black women often face the unappealing dilemma of “marrying down” — that is, marrying a man of a lower socieoeconomic class — or remaining single. He advocates that black women would serve both themselves and blacks more generally by opening themselves to “marrying out” — that is, to marrying a man of a different race.
The changes Banks envisions, played out to their logical conclusion, would reduce the racial disparity in marriage at the expense of widening the socioeconomic disparity in marriage and instantiating current socioeconomic gaps. Banks is correct that objections to interracial marriage are often overstated. But a better solution to the marriage disparity would both discourage hostility to interracial marriage and avoid reifying class distinctions. One place to start involves our thinking about both “marrying out” and “marrying down.” If we recognize both alternatives as potentially legitimate choices, we would make progress toward wearing away existing barriers of race and class.
Blog Post: Sherrilyn Ifill, Forget “All”: Why Most Women Never Even Get Half, Beacon Broadside, July 23, 2012.
The American University Journal of Gender, Social Policy & the Law has issued a call-for-papers on two topics (the first is the fall symposium): “The Rise of Mandatory Pro Bono Programs in Law Schools” and “The Future of Marriage Equality.” The deadline for submissions is Oct. 1, 2012 and full call for papers can be found here: JGSPL Call for Papers 07-2012.
New Article: Cristina Gallo, Marrying poor: women’s citizenship, race and TANF policies, 19 UCLA Women’s L.J. 61 (2012). [Unfortunately I have not been able to find a publicly available version, but it is available through paid databases -- Lexis/Westlaw]
New Article: Lucy A. Williams, The Legal Construction of Poverty: Gender, ‘Work’ and the ‘Social Contract,’ 22 Stellenbosch L. Rev. 463 (2011). Abstract below:
This Paper attempts to provide a broad thematic framework for discussing critical and sometimes controversial issues in the field of law and poverty. Using gender as the lens through which to view a late 20th century version of social contract theory, the Paper discusses how blindness toward gender consequences of social policy and legal rules: (i) obscures the roots of poverty that are in part constructed by common law background legal rules of property, contract, tort, and family law; (ii) induces decision makers to ignore the conditions of and sex segregation in low-wage labor markets and the lack of upward mobility for poor women, thus appearing to legitimate the central, but flawed, assumption of neo-liberal poverty reduction policy (namely, that formal sector waged work can and will provide adequate family support); (iii) renders invisible non-formal sector “subsistence work” and “care-giving work,” as defined herein, and in particular ignores the contribution of this work to economic productivity and efficiency as conventionally understood; and (iv) fails to appreciate that the legal definitions characterizing many poor women workers as “non-workers” reinforce an artificial dichotomy between waged work and social assistance receipt (a distinction often framed as independence versus dependence) and eliminates by magical thinking the alienation and subordination experienced by low-wage workers, particularly women, from poverty discourse. I articulate three central themes or assumptions that can usefully inform our discussions going forward. First, legal rules and discourses play a significant role in constructing society’s understanding of poverty. Second, the rules historically in place in our societies work to keep people in poverty rather than to ameliorate their situation. And, third, contemporary neo-liberal social contract discourse – based in part on these embedded legal understandings – is an ideological initiative that legitimizes and sustains gender subordination (among other forms of illegitimate hierarchy and domination).