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Proposal Invitation

California Western School of Law invites proposals for its Gender Sidelining Symposium to be held April 26-27, 2018 in San Diego, California. The symposium will bring together legal academics, practicing lawyers, business leaders, judges, and others to discuss subtle yet pernicious forms of unequal treatment that often are not actionable under anti-discrimination or other laws, but that nonetheless may hinder the ability of women to advance in their respective professions. We refer to this unequal treatment as Gender Sidelining. There are a myriad of behaviors, policies, and practices that lead to this phenomenon of Gender Sidelining that the law does not (and arguably should not) proscribe, but which still require solutions.

The Symposium will begin with a panel discussion that will provide the relevant context and background for the concept of Gender Sidelining, followed by a dinner and remarks by a panel of highly respected judges who will provide their thoughts and insights regarding this topic. The second day will include lunch and a keynote address by American University Washington College of Law Dean Camille Nelson, a well-respected and widely published scholar who focuses on gender inequality. The second day will also include three salon-style sessions, in which a primary anchor will discuss their work in conjunction with others who will provide commentary and response. Finally, the Symposium will conclude with a final reception and rap session, where participants will be encouraged to share their reflections in an open discussion.

In seeking to explore this Gender Sidelining phenomenon, we invite proposals for three interactive salon-style sessions surrounding the themes of Employment, Entrepreneurship/Business, and Popular Culture. Interested participants also are free to suggest other salon session topics that are consistent with the Symposium’s broader theme. Each individual submitting a proposal should indicate the following: (1) whether you would like to serve as a primary anchor for one of the themed salon-style sessions or (2) have an interest in providing commentary in one of the themed salons.

Proposal Deadline

Proposals should be submitted to jfink@cwsl.edu no later than November 17, 2017, and include an abstract that indicates the specific themed salon session of interest, the presenter’s proposed role (primary anchor or commentator), a description of the presenter’s research/expertise, and a CV. We also welcome proposals that are fully developed in terms of a primary anchor and commentators. Please include “Gender Sidelining Symposium” in your email subject line. Questions should be directed to Prof. Jessica Fink at jfink@cwsl.edu. More complete descriptions of the salon sessions appear below.

Employment Session

Women in the workplace often face obstacles which may impede their advancement and success, but which may not – without more – provide grounds for legal action. For example, women are significantly under-represented in positions of leadership and power across professional sectors; they often are not given adequate credit or recognition for their work; they may find their voices silenced in meetings with their male peers; they may lack appropriate mentors or other professional guidance. While such barriers and slights, standing alone, generally will not rise to the level of being legally actionable, the aggregation of these incidents leads to egregious inequality in the workplace that begs solutions. In this salon, participants will contribute to a vibrant discussion on this visible, yet often unactionable, inequality in employment contexts like academia, the military, religious institutions, law enforcement, law, medicine, and beyond.

Entrepreneurship and Business Session

The news has been replete of late with stories of sexism at tech startups and reports finding gender bias in business funding, especially in the world of venture capital. For this salon, we invite contributions to a discussion about how gender sidelining plays a role in business and entrepreneurship. How does gender impact decisions about which entrepreneurs are funded, which markets are “disrupted,” or who is appointed to boards of directors and other leadership positions? How might these decisions affect both women in the business world and women as consumers? How do issues of intersectionality complicate this analysis? And is there a role for the law to play in addressing these issues, which are traditionally left to the market to sort out? Ideally this salon will feature a mix of academics, practitioners, and business leaders.

Popular Culture Session

Popular culture often contributes to narratives that displace women and make them secondary in status to men within the collective imagination. From sports, to movies, to mainstream news and music, popular culture reproduces cultural norms, practices, and narratives that allow women to be overlooked and disregarded. Proposals that address the relationship between popular culture and gender sidelining might consider any of the following questions: How does mainstream news media coverage overlook the contributions of women politicians, lawyers, judges, and businesswomen, or subject them to different standards than men? How are women athletes and other women in entertainment exposed to unequal conditions due to gender sidelining? How do pop culture portrayals of women politicians, athletes, professionals, and artists create barriers that prevent or discourage women from entering these fields, or make it difficult for women within these fields to advance? Is there a role for the law to mitigate any of these issues?

Symposium Committee