The legal resistance to President Donald Trump’s immigrant ban appears to be largely female.
A week after millions of women took to the streets to protest Trump’s misogyny, the swarms of lawyers offering free legal services to immigrants caught up in Trump’s new policy are skewing noticeably female. Then there are the four female judges who blocked parts of Trump’s executive order, not to mention Acting Attorney General Sally Q. Yates, whom Trump fired after she ordered the Justice Department to not defend his measure in court.
Justice is blind and should be gender neutral, but the optics of female lawyers standing at the forefront of the legal pushback against Trump’s ban is noteworthy since Trump’s rhetoric has insulted and sought to marginalize women. Plus, like so many other industries, the legal sector has struggled mightily to get women into its most visible and highest-paying positions.
The fact that four female judges—Ann Donnelly in New York, Leonie Brinkema in Eastern Virginia, and Allison Burroughs and Judith Dein in Boston—issued temporary stays of Trump’s ban is somewhat remarkable considering that of active U.S. district court judges, more than two-thirds are men, according to data from 2014.
At the same time, part of this phenomenon should not come as a surprise; from the moment they start their legal careers, women are more likely to pursue public interest. Stats from the National Association for Law Placement show that in 2015, 9.1% of female law school graduates accepted public interest legal jobs, compared to 5.1% of their male counterparts. In 2014, 60% of all public interest positions belonged to women, even as women accounted for only 47% of law school grads. Women are also more likely to take judicial clerkships and legal jobs in education and the government, according to NALP. Even female lawyers who pursue careers in private practice generally accumulate more pro bono hours annually—14 versus 13 at the nation’s highest-grossing law firms. In the next tier of law firms, the gap is a bit larger—12.2 hours annually for women, compared to 9.4 for men.
NALP research director Judy Collins told me this gender gap in legal employment used to be even more lopsided. In recent years, however, more female law graduates have pursued corporate legal jobs, yet their penchant for public interest work remains, and the chaos created by Trump’s ban means it’s being put to use in a noticeable and meaningful way.
|A tiny Caribbean island is bucking the worldwide trend of female under-representation in politics. Turks and Caicos elected Sharlene Cartwright-Robinson, its first female premier, in December, and it voted women into the positions of deputy governor, attorney general, chief justice, chief magistrate, and director of public prosecutions. Women have so surpassed men in leadership roles that male politicians are trying to motivate young men to run for office in a bid for equality.|
|Austria is the latest European country to ban the full-face veil in public spaces. The policy is considered a largely symbolic attempt to appease the popular anti-immigration Freedom party since only between 100 and 150 women are estimated to wear the garment. Similar bans are already in place in France and Belgium. The Netherlands has a partial ban and German Chancellor Angela Merkel last year endorsed her party’s call for the same prohibition.|
|Back at it|
|Talk show icon Oprah Winfrey will return to a major network this fall. She’s set to join CBS’ 60 Minutes as a special contributor. Winfrey, whose eponymous show ran for 25 years until 2011, said the current political climate was a factor in her return to network TV. “At a time when people are so divided, my intention is to bring relevant insight and perspective,” she said.|
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|Professors from New York University, the Rhode Island School of Design, and French business school Insead recently put on a play called “Her Opponent” that was composed of excerpts from the three U.S. presidential debates. But there was a twist: Trump was played by a woman while Hillary Clinton was portrayed by a man. The creators inverted the gender roles to see if the casting would “cause people to revisit their own personal biases and develop insights or a different perspective.”|
|New York Times|
|New findings from the Pew Research Center show that women’s share of the workforce may never equal men’s. A declining labor participation rate among women—due to aging, a reversion to gender stereotypes, and more women enrolling in school—is the culprit. Women’s share of the labor force is expected to peak in 2025 at 47.1%, but will then taper off to 46.3% by 2060, relegating women to the minority of workers for the foreseeable future.|
|Three times, no charm|
|The Muslim practice of “talaq” or “the triple divorce” is adhered to in some parts of India. It allows a husband to divorce his wife by simply uttering the word “divorce” three times. Shayara Bano, who was divorced via this tactic, is challenging the legality of the custom. Her case, which is now before the Indian Surpreme Court, has exposed Bano to attacks, but it’s energized the national debate about women’s status in Islam.|
|A Singaporean mother of two named Gayathiri Bose has filed a complaint against German police, claiming she was told to squeeze her breast at airport security to prove she was able to breastfeed. She said Frankfurt Airport police became suspicious because she was traveling with a breast pump but not her baby. She’s exploring filing a more formal complaint over the incident that she called “humiliating” and “very traumatizing.”|
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