On April 13, 2012, Professor Paula Monopoli was invited to join prominent women leaders in the legal profession to explore the issue of why, if women have been graduating from law schools in significant numbers since the 1980s, there is not yet parity in formal leadership positions in the various sectors of the profession. The speakers at the Michigan State Law Review’s symposium, Gender and the Legal Profession’s Pipeline to Power, included Yale Law School Distinguished Journalist-in-Residence Linda Greenhouse and Stanford Law Professor Deborah Rhode. Panelists addressed the lack of parity in various sectors of the profession, including private practice, the judiciary and legal education.
Professor Monopoli presented her paper, Gender Equality in Legal Academia: Deconstructing Masculine Norms, which explores why – given that the pipeline has been full for almost thirty years – fewer than one-third of tenured, full professors are women. Professor Monopoli argues that explanations as to why women have met with friction in ascending to tenured, full faculty positions are embedded in ancient norms about who is a scholar. There are also conditions of the modern university that, while seemingly gender neutral, have a disparate impact on the ability of women – who are still disproportionately burdened with the work of social reproduction – to achieve the status of full professor and significant indicia of scholarly achievement like endowed chairs. These seemingly gender neutral norms are constructed with the “ideal scholar” in mind – a person without caregiving responsibilities. Thus, seemingly gender –neutral norms will tend to disadvantage women. This disadvantage also tends to explain the pay disparity between men and women, even when controlling for rank.
Prof. Monopoli is widely recognized as a national expert on inheritance law and gender issues. In recent years, she has spoken on these topics at the University of Michigan, Yale, Emory, the University of Texas, George Washington University, Queens University Belfast and University College Dublin, among others. She has a special interest in issues of gender and constitutional design and her work in this area has been cited by international experts in the area of comparative constitutional law. Prof. Monopoli is the founding director of the Women, Leadership & Equality Program at UM Carey Law, where she held the Marbury Research Professorship from 2008 to 2011.
Prof. Monopoli recently published the first post-Carnegie Report casebook on inheritance law, Contemporary Approaches to Trusts and Estates (Aspen 2011)(with others). She is also the author of American Probate: Protecting the Public Improving the Process (Northeastern University Press 2003). Prof. Monopoli is an elected member of the American Law Institute and a member of the Institute’s consultative committees on the Restatement (Third) of Trusts and Wills and Donative Transfers. She is also an Academic Fellow of the American College of Trusts and Estates Counsel.
(Photo by Johana Carol)