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Women, Work and Reproduction: Conversations with Martha West

MARCH 11, 2011—The University of Minnesota Women’s Faculty Cabinet in conjunction with William Mitchell College of Law is proud to present a workshop featuring Dr. Martha West of UC Davis. Dr. West will be discussing sex-based employment discrimination and accommodating discrimination by delaying child-bearing.

The rise of feminism in the 19th and 20th century brought issues of sex discrimination to the forefront of U.S. American thinking and research. While great strides have been made in higher education we have not yet reached full equity. There are still many issues of discrimination in the work place, especially around women and reproduction. Data collected by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission revealed that there has been a 65% increase in individuals alleging pregnancy discrimination from 1992 – 2007 (National Partnership for Women and Families, 2008). Many women fear a hostile response to reproduction in the workplace. For example, in a survey of tenured and tenure track faculty at one university, 70 % of faculty believed that taking leave after childbirth would be detrimental to their careers (Perna, 2001). According to Professor West, "employment issues such as race or gender discrimination crystallized many of America’s social controversies. It was both an exciting and frustrating time to be teaching employment law–exciting because of the rapid changes in the law, yet frustrating because most people assumed these problems were solved years ago. Most white Americans simply do not see the continuing discrimination evident in mainstream society."

Martha West, who researched and taught employment discrimination, labor law, and sex-based discrimination at the University of California Davis School of Law for 25 years, will be presenting two talks on sex discrimination and reproduction on April 5, 2011.

Part one of the workshop is a brownbag talk from 12 to 1:15 p.m. in Auerbach Commons at the Law School on "Women, Careers, and Handling Reproduction in the New Workplace Landscape." Part two of the workshop is an armchair discussion and cocktail reception on "Reproductive Battle Lines: Law, Work, and Creating Families" from 5:30 to 7 p.m. at William Mitchell College of Law.

For more information, go to http://www.academic.umn.edu/wfc/Spring%202011%20Workshop.htm, or contact Raya Hegeman-Davis at 612-626-9106 or hege0012@umn.edu.


Martha West

Martha West