It started this summer with the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision.
“It felt a bit surreal, as though we were sent back to a time where women had fewer rights than men,” says Associate Professor of Law Claire Raj. “We thought that it must be equally jarring for so many of our students and wanted to come together as a community and talk about what this means for us, as women, and as women in the legal profession.”
Beyond the decision impacting bodily autonomy, women and gender non-confirming people are held to different standards than their male counterparts, whether those expectations are explicitly communicated or not.
“Our bodies, the way we dress, the way we speak, the way we’re treated in meetings or class – all those things – there’s a difference there and it doesn’t get talked about a lot,” says Emily Suski, deputy associate dean for clinics and externships and associate professor of law.
“This is the first time since I’ve been here that we’ve had a series led exclusively by women,” says Baker. “I’m excited about that.”
They will facilitate three conversations this fall with plans to continue in spring 2023. The first session covered the Dobbs v. Jackson decision; the second will discuss gender issues in the law school; and the third will focus on gender, dress codes, and professional attire.
“Through these conversations I hope, first and foremost, that students feel seen. The law school understands that some students experience potential biases, things that make it harder to be a woman operating in law school,” says Suski. “Beyond that, it would be wonderful if they had some tools or thoughts about new ways to navigate these challenges.”
The Women+ discussions may have been initiated by women, but the professors encourage the entire South Carolina Law community to participate in these conversations as these issues impact everyone.
“It’s an important reminder that we had to fight for gender equality,” says Raj. “And while we have come a long way, we have to continue this fight.”