Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Is the Future of International Law Rosy?

At a conference of junior international law scholars last Friday at Yale Law School, the future of international law manifested itself in many shades of pink. After noticing the abundance of women in the plenary and workshop sessions, I reviewed the list of participants (consisting largely of untenured professors but welcoming fellows soon to hit the teaching market and several recently tenured folks) and counted: 14 men and 32 women (including IntLawGrrls bloggers "Amelia Earhart" [IntLawGrrl Elena Baylis], "Mata Hari" [Hari M. Osofsky] and "Eleanor Roosevelt" [Beth Van Schaack]). What accounts for this gender imbalance, particularly in a field not traditionally, ahem, friendly to the "fairer sex"? I'm interested in your insights into this phenomenon. And whatever the reason for the gender count at this particular event, it gave me hope that these and other bright new voices will have a serious impact on the future of our field.


Fiona de Londras said...

It could be the rise of international human rights law as such an important category of int'l law scholarship. It seems, in Europe at least, to be the case that most trade, arbitration and IHL people are men but a very many human rights law scholars are women. In fact, I would even go so far as to say that IHRL is seen sometimes as a 'soft' area of law (I was recently introduced as a 'fluffy lawyer' by a friend at a dinner party full of law and economics people, for example) which perhaps dissuades men (as opposed to attracting women).

Unknown said...

Fiona's comment about the general regard of international HR law as fluffy is true in my observation as well. Many people regard it as soft due to the lack of enforcement mechanisms. There are a lot more women than men practicing public interest law, so perhaps that trend is expanding itself to international human rights law, which is a broader (and in many places more cutting edge and academic) form of public interest and social justice work.

Diane Marie Amann said...

A similar discussion is going on over at the National Security blog. See http://natseclaw.typepad.com/natseclaw/2007/03/gender_diversif.html.