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The University of California, Berkeley Boalt Hall Women’s Association is up in arms over a dearth of tenure-track women on the law school faculty, and they fired the first salvo in their fight last week. The association sent a letter to the school’s faculty appointment committee blasting the law school for “hiring practices that could be characterized as discriminatory.” Boalt currently has three openings for full-time professors, and the school has not offered a woman a tenure-track position since California Proposition 209, which eliminated affirmative action programs, passed in 1996. Because of that, pressure from the faculty, student body and alumni is mounting to bring a woman on board. Things came to a boil when association president Renee Jansen found out a few weeks ago that Boalt was considering Daniel Farber, a controversial scholar in critical race theory, for a position as a tenured faculty member. “He’d be just one more white male on the faculty when we have so many,” Jansen said Friday. “One way to look at it is that except when under scrutiny and pressure, Boalt has not demonstrated its willpower to hire women into the tenure-track positions,” said Boalt professor Marjorie Shultz. Shultz remembers her long battle for tenure two decades ago. Boalt originally turned down her and professor Eleanor Swift’s requests for tenure in the 1980s. The school eventually granted them tenure, but only after an extensive appeal process — coupled with student and public outcry. This year’s candidates for the three positions face what the women’s association calls an “overwhelmingly white male” faculty that will eventually vote on who joins the ranks at Boalt. But Boalt Hall dean John Dwyer sees things differently. “If you look over the last decade, what we see is five out of 16 hires were women,” Dwyer said. “We take these issues very seriously. The school thinks it’s important. I think it’s important.” Dwyer added that the school has interviewed six women and three men for the open positions. Boalt has also invited one woman but no men for “lookover” visits to see the campus should any additional positions open up next year. “The facts show that we’ve invited more women than men,” he said. But some of Boalt’s alumni are still trying to figure out how women have come to make up such a small chunk of the faculty. One of those questioning why there are only 10 women out of 54 faculty members at Boalt is Angela Bradstreet, a former managing partner at Carroll, Burdick & McDonough and president-elect of the Bar Association of San Francisco. “The bar association is going to look into it. We’re very concerned,” said Bradstreet, who earned her LL.M. from Boalt in 1980. “I hope there’s some good reason that we’re missing.” As for Boalt’s record of offering only one woman a faculty position from 1996 to 2000, Dwyer attributes the disparity in part to a push by former dean Herma Hill Kay to boost the school’s business law faculty. As with professions like engineering, the applicant pool the school had to draw from for business law professors is predominantly male. Nationally, women made up just 13 percent of the recent business law candidates applying for entry-level professor positions through the American Association of Law Schools. “We had no young business faculty at all,” he said. “We needed to have a business faculty.” Dwyer sees the prospects of women joining this year as vastly brighter. The school plans to add professors in criminal law and criminal procedure, and Dwyer said women make up approximately 30 percent of that entry-level applicant pool. Still, the candidates face a five-person appointment committee with just one woman, professor Rachel Moran. “I think people are frustrated with the amount of women on the committee,” said Jansen. “but there aren’t enough women to serve on the committee. It’s a catch-22.” The letter from the women’s association points to the possibility of “unconscious bias” among committee members as one of the most severe hurdles to a job at Boalt women may face this year. A committee overwhelmingly made up of men is much more likely to favor male candidates than one that is balanced, Jansen said. Those on the committee say they’re doing the best they can under the limitations imposed by Prop 209 and a UC Regents resolution that severely limits their outreach efforts. “I can’t imagine our making any stronger efforts than we are making to increase the number of women on the faculty” said law professor Jesse Choper, chairman of the committee. “A very significant number of people we have seriously considered for appointment to the faculty are women.” Jansen’s next focus is to get Boalt’s alumni involved, although she hasn’t yet mapped out her strategy. “It’s very easy to ignore students,” Jansen said of the administration. “It’s hard to ignore your fund-raising base.” Meanwhile, an audit of the hiring practices throughout the entire UC system — commissioned by the Legislature — is scheduled for completion in late March. Also in March, Boalt expects to announce new hires, although the school is not required to fill the positions by that time.

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