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Women's Faculty Cabinet

Women's Faculty Cabinet

Spring 2011 Workshop

"Women, Work and Reproduction:

Conversations with Martha West"

Sponsored by: The Women's Faculty Cabinet, the University of Minnesota,
and William Mitchell College of Law

On April 5th, 2011 Professor Martha West presented two talks in the Twin Cities. The first was a lunchtime brown bag talk at the University of Minnesota Law School titled, "Women, Careers and Handling Reproduction in the New Workplace Landscape." The talk drew around 50 attendees from the university community including both professors and students. The talk centered around family-friendly policies for female faculty and graduate students in institutions of higher education. Professor West argued that women should be supported in child-bearing in the early stages of their careers or as graduate students since waiting until tenure has been reached will often put women over a safe child-bearing age. Martha West suggested that law schools increase available child-care to faculty and students and proposed a change in tenure requirements that would not adversely affect women who choose to "stop the clock".


The second talk was presented at William Michell College of Law as an arm chair discussion and cockail hour. The William Mitchell talk had 88 attendees from members of the law community across the Twin Cities. This talk presented a forum for women and men to share their own personal stories of delayed child-bearing or perceived employment discrimination due to reproduction.The arm chair discussions provided a safe space for faculty and administrators to dialogue about reproducting and the law profession.



Some additional information on Martha West:

Martha S. West, Professor of Law Emerita, retired from UC Davis School of Law in 2007 after teaching employment law for twenty-five years.  Her courses included Employment Discrimination, Labor Law, and Sex-based Discrimination.  She continues to teach Gender and Law one quarter a year to undergraduates in the UC Davis Women's Studies program.  From 2008 to 2010 she served as General Counsel for the American Association of University Professors (AAUP).  She lectures widely on issues relevant to women in education and work-life balance.  In September 2010 she lectured at the University of Pretoria, South Africa, on education law, focusing on Title IX, women in athletics, and sexual harassment in schools.

Professor West received her BA in history, magna cum laude, from Brandeis University in 1967, and her JD, summa cum laude, from Indiana University-Bloomington, School of Law, in 1974.  After eight years of law practice in Indianapolis, Indiana, she began teaching at UC Davis in 1982.  She has served as associate dean, director of clinical legal education, and founded the law school's Family Protection Clinic in 1998.

Her research has focused on discrimination against women in higher education. Her publications include:

Sex-Based Discrimination (4th, 5th, and 6th ed. 2006), co-authored with Prof. Herma Hill Kay, UC Berkeley;

Gender Bias in Academic Robes: the Law's Failure to Protect Women Faculty, 67 Temple Law Review 67 (1994);

Faculty Women's Struggle for Equality at UC Davis, 10 UCLA Women's Law Journal 259 (2000);

Preventing Sexual Harassment: the Federal Court's Wake-Up Call for Women, 68 Brooklyn Law Review 457 (2002); and

AAUP Faculty Gender Equity Indicators 2006 (AAUP 2006), co-authored with John W. Curtis, director of research and public policy at AAUP.

In May 2005, Professor West and three colleagues at UC Davis issued a report, "Unprecedented Urgency: Gender Discrimination in Faculty Hiring at the University of California," describing three years of California legislative hearings coordinated by State Senator Jackie Speier, investigating the drastic decline in women faculty hires within the UC system after the UC Regents abolished affirmative action in 1995.  The report was funded by the Ford Foundation, through the Institute for Women's Leadership at Rutgers University, and now appears in edited form as a chapter in Doing Diversity in Higher Education (Winnifred Brown-Glaude, ed. 2009).

Professor West served eight years as a member of the Davis public school board from 1997 through 2005.  She coordinated three school tax campaigns and the district constructed a new junior high and two elementary schools during her service on the board.  As chair of the Davis Child Care Commission in 1988, she negotiated an agreement to open child care programs at all Davis elementary schools.

Professor West has three daughters and three grandchildren.