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Gender and Western Law

71 students anonymously share their thoughts

Denise Brunsdon

on 28 January 2016

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Transcript of Gender and Western Law

Anonymous, via SurveyMonkey
10 Questions in English
71 Respondents
April 21-29, 2015

Gender at Western Law
Nearly as many men filled out the survey as women. This was a welcome surprise; the balance increases the reliability of the data.
Responses were spread fairly evenly across all years, but could have been stronger amongst 2Ls.
Feminism Avoidance
The best way to reach Western Law students is through Facebook, YouTube, Instagram or Twitter.
My prior work in market research taught me about the value of surveying opinions, especially anonymous ones. Another lesson I learned from market research is the way that women and men think differently. Gender is one of the factors that most often causes a statistical difference in opinion. That's because of the intensity and strictness of contemporary gender roles, and gender socialization. This survey explores the way gender impacts experience for Western Law students, particularly as it relates to their sentiments about the Gender and the Law Association or the issues it champions. I would like to share my sincere thanks to all respondents, as well as to all of you who take the time to read these results.

Yours truly,
Denise @Brunsdon, Gender and the Law President 2014-2015

The response rate was staggering. 30 responses are required for any statistical analysis. The club's ambitious goal was 50 responses. So to have 71 - over 7% of all students - is exceptional and reliable.
This distribution is nice because it means GALA members aren't noticeably skewing the results.
Stereotypes pervade for some students - feminism isn't fun or relevant. It's hard to change minds of people who have succumbed to such messages. But the club can get more members through operations and communications - set up tables beyond Clubs Days, put more blurbs about the club in the Daily, and include how-to-join info with those posts.
The club provides a key sense of camaraderie for feminists, a home for the social-justice minded. The club should not shy away from these benefits for the sake of broader membership. The issue of lack of female professors continues to be an issue. As the Club discussed often, 1 women in all 1L is no longer sufficient - we should be aiming (and achieving) for half female professors for all first years.
How interested are you in the following issues, or learning about the following issues, where 1 is not at all interested and 5 is very interested.
Graph: % who were quite or highly interested, and selected 4 or 5
Most of the topics are quite interesting to students. That said, some are slightly more interesting than others. Sexual assault events should also reference "rape culture" for maximum relevance.
*TRIGGER WARNING* Please note this presentation contains content that may trigger sexual assault survivors.

Sadly, the average student prefers easy, low energy lunchtime speaker events at the school involving little participation
On a scale of one to five, where 1 is strongly disagree and 5 is strongly agree, how much do you agree with the following statements...
There are many ways Western Law could improve gender equity - the most urgent areas are encouraging women's participation, women's faculty representation, and respect for survivors in class. The three are likely intertwined and improving one will improve the others.
Western Law is not as sexist as it has been historically, but there's a lot of work to be done.

The information that students graciously shared, when studied, paints a road map for success, both for GALA and Western Law as a whole.
Thanks for your time. =)
Qualitative Responses

There remains hostility toward women's rights and the feminist movement at Western Law. Many students do not want to hear about women's struggles, issues, or the impact of sexism on our lives. Men want GALA to be more "approachable", which is likely a placeholder word to indicate discussions should be more about men, or equality discussions should be quieter or less intrusive on men's right not to know about women's struggles.

Qualitative Responses
There was a lot of positive feedback, including suggestions for Club improvement. A few selected ideas are here. There's still an undertone of "how will this help me get/hold a job". It's an interesting intersection of feminism with self-focused concerns. These comments show a clear path to garner interest in the Club; however, it's too narrow a concern for the long-term. It's impossible to address legal industry sexism without address larger systems of social inequality.
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