Book releases

Unequal Profession: Race and Gender in Legal Academia

This book is the first formal, empirical investigation into the law faculty experience using a distinctly intersectional lens, examining both the personal and professional lives of law faculty members.

Comparing the professional and personal experiences of women of color professors with white women, white men, and men of color faculty from assistant professor through dean emeritus, Unequal Profession explores how the race and gender of individual legal academics affects not only their individual and collective experience, but also legal education as a whole. Drawing on quantitative and qualitative empirical data, Meera E. Deo reveals how race and gender intersect to create profound implications for women of color law faculty members, presenting unique challenges as well as opportunities to improve educational and professional outcomes in legal education. Deo shares the powerful stories of law faculty who find themselves confronting intersectional discrimination and implicit bias in the form of silencing, mansplaining, and the presumption of incompetence, to name a few. Through hiring, teaching, colleague interaction, and tenure and promotion, Deo brings the experiences of diverse faculty to life and proposes a number of mechanisms to increase diversity within legal academia and to improve the experience of all faculty members.

About the author

Meera E. Deo is Professor of Law at Thomas Jefferson School of Law and the Director of the Law School Survey of Student Engagement (LSSSE).

“Fascinating, shocking, and infuriating, Meera Deo’s careful qualitative research exposes the institutional practices and cultural norms that maintain a separate and unequal race-gender order even within the privileged ranks of tenure-track law professors. With riveting quotes from faculty across a range of institutional and social positions, Unequal Profession powerfully reminds us that we must do better. I saw my own career in this book – and you might, too.”

—Angela P. Harris, University of California, Davis

Unequal Profession is a powerful account of inequality in legal academia. Quantitative data and compelling narratives bring to life the challenges and roadblocks in gaining not just entry and tenure but also respect for the voices of minority women within the academy. There are no easy remedies, but reading this book is a good place to start for lawyers and law professors to understand what minority women face and which practices can increase the odds of success.”

—Bryant G. Garth, University of California, Irvine

Unequal Profession should be mandatory reading for everyone in legal academia. The experiences of women of color in the legal academy have been discounted too often. By providing concrete evidence of systemic discrimination, Meera Deo illuminates a long-standing problem needing to be remedied.”

—Sarah Deer, University of Kansas

Women make up the majority of law students in the U.S., but comprise less than 40 percent of law faculties; women of color are a mere 7 percent of law teachers. In short, women of color legal scholars are pioneers, paving an uncharted path. Unequal Profession, based on nearly 100 personal interviews with these pioneers, offers an intimate portrait of the struggle of highly accomplished and educated women to find equal respect and opportunity in the hallowed halls of American law schools. In a profession built on the ideals of equal opportunity for all, these women’s truths must be confronted: the barriers to equality in the legal academy are legion.”

—Madhavi Sunder, Georgetown University

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