Category Archives: Gender Issues

News Coverage: Equal pay for women elusive 55 years after landmark law

equalpay_office_istockNews coverage: Niv Elis, Equal pay for women elusive 55 years after landmark law, The Hill, June 13, 2018.


New Article: Pregnancy, Poverty and the State

New article: Pregnancy, Poverty and the State, Michele Goodwin & Erwin Chemerinsky, Yale Law Journal, Vol. 127, 2018. Forthcoming UC Irvine School of Law Research Paper No. 2018-21. Abstract below:

In Pregnancy, Poverty, and The State, we argue that the core bundle of rights contained in reproductive privacy have been hollowed out through new legislation and court decisions, affecting the actual practice of reproductive privacy. We show how increasingly, even judicial opinions affirming reproductive rights fail to constrain state governments seeking to eviscerate those rights through new legislation. Though court rulings recognize these rights, they ultimately render them meaningless for poor women, particularly poor women of color. These groups are the first victims since they are largely unseen and unheard by those who make the law and policy. As the policies that substantially burden women’s reproductive rights become normalized, these norms will affect broader segments of the population, placing greater numbers of women at risk.

We view these issues as not simply matters of law, but of human rights, morality, and dignity. The moral hypocrisy of the state is clear in the reproductive health context. That is, when the state coerces women and girls into pregnancies they do not want and to bear children they do not desire to have, it not only creates unconstitutional conditions, but it also acts immorally. Even though legal scholars typically refer to lawmaking that unduly burdens the poor as unjust, we suggest that legislative efforts to eviscerate reproductive rights is far worse than that.

This project, launches with a review of Professor Khiara Bridges’s daring book, The Poverty of Privacy Rights to problematize the intersections of privacy and morality. We view the state as not only a fallible and problematic arbiter of women’s morality, but argue the state acts immorally when it deprives poor women of privacy, bodily autonomy, and threatens to rob them of life itself. As we document in detail, bounded in the state’s immoral actions toward poor women of color are its historical struggles and campaigns against their personhood and citizenship as well as conscription of their bodies in service to malevolent state agendas such as eugenics and forced sterilization. As we show, this is more than mere indifference, but an historic pattern. We illustrate how the continued effects of more than a century of negative state interventions in the reproductive lives of poor women of color is actually deadly. Finally, we predict that the continued interference in the reproductive lives of poor women creates cultural norms and precedents in medicine, law, and society that will spill over and constrain the rights of all classes of women, regardless of race. That is, historical disregard for the lives and rights of Black women inscribed by judicial doctrine and court opinions as well as state and federal legislation serve as vehicles for contemporary and future disparagement of all women.

New Article: “In an Avalanche Every Snowflake Pleads Not Guilty”: The Collateral Consequences of Mass Incarceration and Impediments to Women’s Fair Housing Rights

New Article: George Lipsitz, “In an Avalanche Every Snowflake Pleads Not Guilty”: The Collateral Consequences of Mass Incarceration and Impediments to Women’s Fair Housing Rights, 59 UCLA L. Rev. 1746 (2012). Abstract below:

In our society, individual acts of intentional discrimination function in concert with historically created vulnerabilities; these vulnerabilities are based on disfavored identity categories and amplify each injustice and injury. Although anyone can be a victim of housing discrimination, women of color suffer distinct collateral injuries from barriers to housing that are collective and cumulative in nature. At the intersections of race and gender, the welfare and dignity of black women and Latinas are undermined by the national failure to enforce fair housing and fair employment laws, by the concentration of poverty in neighborhoods inhabited largely by blacks and Latinos, by the criminalization of poverty, by the proliferation of punishments inside the criminal justice system, and by the expansion of the collateral consequences of arrests and criminal convictions in society at large. Produced by a plethora of public policies and private actions, these injuries entail more than denials of rights and resources to individuals. They evidence the existence and extent of a concentrated political attack on communities of color. Women play a central role in these practices because punitive policies are almost always legitimated by allegations of nonnormative behavior by poor people and people of color, allegations that occlude the actual intersectional vulnerabilities created by multiple forms of raced and gendered exploitation inscribed inside the routine practices of contemporary capitalism. This Article delineates how housing and employment discrimination combine to make black women and Latinas particularly vulnerable to surveillance, arrest, and incarceration. It shows how race and gender discrimination make reentry into society especially difficult for women ex-offenders from aggrieved communities of color. It establishes the historical causes and consequences of moral panics about the putative misbehavior of women of color, and it concludes by proposing a combination of litigation, legislation, and social mobilization to address the execrable consequences of intersectional discrimination and mass incarceration.

New Article: Section 1 of the Thirteenth Amendment and the Badges and Incidents of Slavery

New Article: James Gray Pope, Section 1 of the Thirteenth Amendment and the Badges and Incidents of Slavery65 UCLA L. Rev. 426 (2018). Abstract below:

This Article presents the first comprehensive treatment of the basic and officially “open” question whether Section 1 of the Thirteenth Amendment directly bans the badges and incidents of slavery. Surprisingly, in light of present-day uncertainty, the historical record is relatively clear on this issue. Members of the Thirty-Ninth Congress generally agreed that Section 1 banned at least some of the badges and incidents; they parted company over which ones. The Democrats and their allies claimed that it outlawed only the core incidents of slavery, for example chattelization and physically or legally forced labor. But their Republican opponents maintained that it banned a far broader set including—at a minimum—denials of the rights enumerated in the Civil Rights Act of 1866, namely to enjoy the same rights to make contracts, own property, and participate in court as were enjoyed by white citizens. Until 1968, courts also assumed that the issue of badges and incidents hinged on Section 1. Contrary to the received wisdom, Jones v. Alfred H. Mayer Co., decided in that year, announced for the first time that the identification of badges and incidents might be a task for Congress under the Section 2 power to enact “appropriate” enforcement legislation. Although the Court has maintained for nearly half a century that the question is “open,” the practical reality is that lower courts honor the narrow reading of Section 1 initially proposed by the unsuccessful Democratic opponents of both the Amendment and the 1866 Civil Rights Act, and later introduced to jurisprudence in the now-discredited Jim Crow decisions of Plessy v. Ferguson and Hodges v. United States. It is not too late to resolve the official uncertainty by embracing the Republican reading. This choice would restart the process, commenced by the Thirty-Ninth Congress but derailed in Plessy and Hodges, of determining what it means to ensure that neither slavery nor involuntary servitude “shall exist.” The Article concludes by exploring some of the basic interpretive issues and their implications for the constitutional law of racially disparate impact, race-based affirmative action, gender equality, and reproductive freedom.

Interactive Tool: Income Mobility Charts for Girls, Asian-Americans and Other Groups. Or Make Your Own.

Interactive Tool: Emily Badger et al, Income Mobility Charts for Girls, Asian-Americans and Other Groups. Or Make Your Own., N.Y. Times, Mar. 27, 2018 [a follow up from the earlier article that focused on black male economic mobility that is equally strong in terms of insights and graphics].

Pathways “State of the Union 2018” Report from the Stanford Center on Poverty & Inequality [Focuses on Gender this year]

Pathways-SOTU18-cover_smallPathways “State of the Union 2018” Report. Table of contents below:

Executive Summary
Gender Identification
The traditional gender binary just doesn’t work. When respondents of a national survey were asked about their femininity and masculinity, 7 percent considered themselves equally feminine and masculine, and another 4 percent responded in ways that did not “match” their sex at birth (i.e., females who saw themselves as more masculine than feminine, or males who saw themselves as more feminine than masculine).
Despite common beliefs to the contrary, male students do not consistently outperform female students in mathematics. It’s only in high school that the male advantage in mathematics surfaces. What’s going on?
For women and men alike, life expectancy has stagnated for the last several years, primarily due to increases in drug poisoning deaths and in the suicide rate. The male-female life expectancy gap, which favors females, fell from 7.6 years in 1970 to 4.8 years in 2010, a reduction of more than one-third.
After rising steadily for many decades, the overall female employment rate has been falling since 2000. Why has it fallen? Are there straightforward policy fixes that could increase women’s employment?
When gender differences in labor force participation, fringe benefits, and self-employment income are taken into account, women earn only 57 cents for each dollar earned by men.
Are women more likely than men to be in deep poverty, official poverty, and near poverty? Yes, yes, and yes.
Safety Net
Why do women use safety net programs more than men? A hint: It’s not just because they’re more likely to be eligible for them.
Occupational Segregation
Nearly half of the women in the labor force would have to move to a different occupation to eliminate all occupational segregation by gender. This is a classic case of stalled change: If recent rates of change are extrapolated, it would take 330 years to reach full integration.
A new science of gender discrimination is being built with audit studies and other experiments. A key result: Gender discrimination is more likely to emerge when the applicant’s commitment to work can be called into question or when an applicant is behaving in a gender-nonconforming way.
Workplace Sexual Harassment
The workplace is rife with sexual harassment. By age 25 to 26, one in three women and one in seven men experience behavior at work that they define as sexual harassment.
Social Networks
Although men used to have more social ties than men, now the gender gap has reversed and women have the larger networks. But women still have fewer coworker ties than men … and coworker ties matter a lot.
What are the most promising science-based policies for reducing gender inequality at home and in the labor market?

New Article: “Sexual Harassment of Low-Income Women in Housing: Pilot Study Results”

New Article: Rigel Christine Oliveri, Sexual Harassment of Low-Income Women in Housing: Pilot Study Results, SSRN Feb. 2018. Abstract below:

Sparked by the #metoo movement, we are once again having an important national discussion about the prevalence of sexual harassment in America. The conversation is a necessary starting point, but it’s focus on high-status workplaces overlooks other contexts in which sexual harassment occurs. This Article focuses on one such area: the sexual harassment and exploitation of low-income women by their landlords. Although it is a significant national problem, there have been no reliable empirical studies about its nature and prevalence.

The lack of information causes difficulties. Policymakers and legislators cannot address sexual harassment in housing if they do not know basic facts about it such as how common it is, who is likely to experience and perpetrate it, and what form it takes. The law, much of which is borrowed from the employment context, remains underdeveloped and unresponsive to the unique challenges presented by housing harassment.

This Article and the Pilot Study upon which it is based seek to remedy this situation. The Study involved detailed interviews of one hundred randomly selected low-income women. These interviews reveal important insights into who is most at risk for housing harassment, the characteristics of the landlords who engage in it, the form it is likely to take, and how women respond to it.

The Study results both challenge and improve upon assumptions made by more theoretical scholarship, and lead to suggestions for changes to both law and policy. In particular, the results underscore the argument for treating sexual harassment in housing as a phenomenon that is entirely different from employment harassment, with a new framework that recognizes the economic reality of low-income housing. From a policy perspective, the results reveal the need for greater regulation of the landlord-tenant relationship, and the necessity of providing more resources to the most vulnerable renters.

Blog Post: “The Economics of Family Behavior”

Blog Post: June Carbone & Naomi Cahn, The Economics of Family Behavior, Inst. for Family Studies, Feb. 8, 2018.

Op-Ed: “Single Mothers Are Not the Problem”

Op-Ed: David Brady et al., Single Mothers Are Not the Problem, N.Y. Times, Feb. 11, 2018.

New Article: “A Poor Mother’s Right to Privacy: A Review”

New Article: Danielle Keats Citron, A Poor Mother’s Right to Privacy: A Review, 98 B.U. L. Rev. (2018, Forthcoming). Abstract below:

Collecting personal data is a feature of daily life. Businesses, advertisers, agencies, and law enforcement amass massive reservoirs of our personal data. This state of affairs—what I am calling the “collection imperative”—is justified in the name of efficiency, convenience, and security. The unbridled collection of personal data, meanwhile, leads to abuses. Public and private entities have disproportionate power over individuals and groups whose information they have amassed. Nowhere is that power disparity more evident than for the state’s surveillance of the indigent. Poor mothers, in particular, have vanishingly little privacy. Whether or not poor mothers receive subsidized prenatal care, the existential state of poor mothers is persistent and indiscriminate state surveillance.

Professor Khiara Bridges’s book, The Poverty of Privacy Rights, advances the project of securing privacy for the most vulnerable among us. It shows how the moral construction of poverty animates the state’s surveillance of poor mothers, rather than legitimate concerns about prenatal care. It argues that poor mothers have a constitutional right not to be known if the state’s data collection efforts demean and humiliate them for no good reason. The Poverty of Privacy Rights provides an important lens for rethinking the data collection imperative more generally. It supplies a theory not only on which a constitutional right to information privacy can be built but also on which positive law and norms can develop. Concepts of reciprocity may provide another analytical tool to understand a potential right to be as unknown to government as it is to us.