Professor Julie Goldscheid has edited a new book on gender and equality in the law. Gender and Equality Law was published by Ashgate earlier this year and is part of the series, the Library of Essays on Equality and Anti-Discrimination Law.
Professor Goldscheid writes and speaks widely about gender equality, with a particular focus on gender-based violence and economic equality. She has served in various positions in US-based nongovernmental organizations in which she has directed litigation, legislation, and policy-based initiatives to advance gender equality. She has served on the board of directors of the Stonewall Community Foundation and other NGOs and has been active in various bar association committees and task forces.
Here, she discusses her new book and some of the current issues in gender and equality law.
Could you give us a sense of the scope of the book?
The book is part of a multi-volume set that presents both classic and cutting-edge perspectives on the question, what is discrimination in the twenty-first century. It complements other volumes in the set that focus respectively on age, disability, race, religion, and sexuality.
As its title states, this volume focuses on gender and equality law. The selection of articles illustrates how dominant theoretical approaches in this field have evolved. It traces how those approaches have influenced core issues, such as the meaning of gender, family formation and roles, equality in the workplace, reproductive rights, and violence. The selections are international in their range. They include recent works that summarize foundational debates as well as less well-known articles and essays that capture defining issues. The articles are framed by a substantive introduction that places the selections in their historical and theoretical context.
Who might this book be of particular interest to?
The book would be of particular interest to students of gender equality who are interested in a global overview of the progress of law reform to advance gender equality. Those with a particular interest on ongoing debates in this area and the persistent tension between well-intentioned reform and unintended consequences may also find this book helpful.
How did you make the final selections for the book?
The selections reflect an effort to present a representative sample of legal developments in key areas of law reform that address gender equality. I aimed to present works representative of developments in the United States, the European Union, and under international human rights instruments. I especially worked to include recent works that summarize foundational discussions, lesser-published contributions, and essays that capture defining issues with enduring resonance. My goal was to offer a foundation that could prompt reflection, dialog, and advocacy for future reform.
What are some of the key issues today in the law around gender and equality?
Recurring themes persist notwithstanding the gradual—though not universal—move toward eliminating formal gender-based inequalities. Questions about biological, social, and cultural differences based on gender continue to shape legal and policy choices, as do questions of how the law can recognize both historic and ongoing gender-based subordination without inscribing identities. The nature and role of autonomy and agency, as well as sexuality, are common threads throughout issues relating to family, reproduction, work, and violence. As global awareness of gender discrimination increases, backlash and retrenchment highlight the need to focus on the importance of formal equality while continuing to address the more subtle forms of bias that perpetuate social, economic, and political inequalities.