Angela Onwuachi-Willig

Volume 72, Issue 6, 1703-1716

Just as the COVID-19 pandemic helped to expose the inequities that already existed between

students at every level of education based on race and socioeconomic class status, it has

exposed existing inequities among faculty based on gender and the intersection of gender and

race. The legal academy has been no exception to this reality. The widespread loss of

childcare and the closing of both public and private primary and secondary schools have

disproportionately harmed women law faculty, who are more likely than their male peers to

work a “second shift” in terms of childcare and household responsibilities. Similarly, women

law faculty were more likely to feel the effects of the financial exigencies that universities and

law schools faced during the pandemic because of their disproportionate representation in

non-secure, meaning non-tenure-stream, faculty positions. Furthermore, the rapid switch to

remote teaching and learning, particularly during spring 2020, had a more detrimental effect

on women in part because of the persistent gender bias that women law faculty, who teach a

larger percentage of required and survey courses, encounter in student teaching evaluations

and in part because women tend to be more engaged in the mental health and emotional

caretaking of students, which significantly increased during the pandemic. Even the actions

that law schools took during the pandemic to provide relief to faculty, such as automatic

extensions to the tenure clock for all faculty, place women more at risk than men for harmful

impacts on factors like pay equity. In all, this Essay briefly analyzes how factors such as

limited childcare, remote learning, the greater caretaking needs of students, plus other

pandemic-related effects, have worked to exacerbate previously existing gender and

intersectional gender and race inequities between men and all women in legal academia and

between white men and women of color.