Ten Insights Regarding Sexual Harassment and Diversity in the Academy

Loan K. Le

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The flood of #MeToo revelations has demonstrated the commonality of sexual harassment and how regularly these claims go unreported, often due to personal safety, and professional retaliation fears. While the women’s movement ushered in legal recourse for sexual harassment claims, many women and men do not exercise their rights. Sociolegal scholars explain what happens to complaints on the ground as an exercise of political power that can quash the rights of those with limited resources. Amy Blackstone, Christopher Uggen and Heather McLaughlin argued in Law and Society Review that assailants often choose women who are least likely to complain. As Anna Maria Marshall and Abigail Saguy have argued, people and workplace organizations explain problems in ways that limit their meaning as unequal working conditions, or sexual assault. Taken together, institutionalized and socioeconomic barriers influence the degree to which individuals are affected by sexual harassment and their access to recourse.

The #MeToo revelations have drawn attention to additional hurdles that women face in the work place, and this includes those of us working in higher education. However, we have yet to see a discussion of the systematic problems in the academy. Here, Loan Le, President of the Institute of Good Government and Inclusion, takes up the invitation in the New West blog to reflect on how sexual harassment, stalking, and assault likely affects gender representation in the academy. Here, she presents ten early insights from an ongoing study.

Susan Sterett and Jennifer Diascro

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It’s Not “Just A Cake”: Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission

By Lorna Bracewell

Gay Wedding Cake

On Tuesday, December 5, 2017, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in a case that court-watchers are calling the biggest case of the termMasterpiece Cakeshop Ltd. V. Colorado Civil Rights Commission. The facts of the case are not in dispute. In 2012, David Mullins, Charlie Craig, and Deborah Munn, Craig’s mother, went to Masterpiece Cakeshop, a Denver-area bakery, to order a specialty wedding cake. After a brief conversation, the bakery’s owner, Jack Phillips, refused to make a cake for the same-sex couple on the grounds that he is a Christian and believes same-sex marriage is sinful.

Humiliated by Phillips’s refusal – in an interview with NPR, Craig’s mother recalls her son breaking down in tears once they returned to the car – Mullins and Craig decided to file a complaint against Masterpiece Cakeshop with Colorado’s state commission on civil rights. Colorado is one of only 21 states with a law prohibiting discrimination in public accommodations on the basis of sexual orientation and one of only 19 states with a law prohibiting such discrimination on the basis of gender identity. The only federal legislation affording LGBT people any form of anti-discrimination protection is the Matthew Shepherd and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, which makes hate crimes based on sexual orientation or gender identity federal crimes.

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