The demographics of law schools are changing and women make up the majority of law students. Yet, the demographics of many law faculties do not reflect these changing demographics with more men occupying faculty seats. In legal education, women predominately occupy skills positions, including legal writing, clinic, academic success, bar preparation, or library. According to a 2010 Association of American Law Schools survey, the percentage of female lecturers and instructors is so high that those positions are stereotypically female.
The term coined for positions typically held by women is “pink ghetto.” According to the Department of Labor, pink-collar-worker describes jobs and career areas historically considered “women’s work,” and included on the list is teaching. However, in legal education, tenured and higher-ranked positions are held primarily by men, while women often enter legal education through non-tenured and non-faculty skills-based teaching pipelines. In a number of these positions, women experience challenges like poor pay, heavy workloads, and lower status such as by contract, nontenure, or at will.
While many may view this as a challenge, looking at these positions solely as a “pink ghetto” diminishes the many contributions women have made to legal education through the skills faculty pipelines. Conversely, we miss the opportunity to examine how legal education has changed and how women have accepted the challenge of being on the front line of educating this new generation of learners while enthusiastically adopting the American Bar Association’s new standards for assessment and student learning. There is an opportunity for women to excel in these positions if we provide them with allies who champion for equal status and provide the requisite support.
This article focuses on the changing gender demographics of legal education, legal education pipelines, and the role and status of women in higher education with an emphasis on legal education. The final section applies feminist pedagogy to address challenges, opportunities, and aspirations for women in legal education.