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Women and the Law Conference 2003

April 25, 2003

Women and the Maternal Wall

Ruth Bader Ginsburg Lecturer: Professor Joan Williams

University of California, Hastings College of Law

In 2003, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg visited Thomas Jefferson School of Law and delivered an address titled, “Workways of the Supreme Court.” After this visit, Justice Ginsburg generously created the Thomas Jefferson School of Law Ruth Bader Ginsburg Lecture Series, one of only two lecture series in the world that bears her name.

At the Third Annual Conference, Women and the Maternal Wall, Joan C. Williams, then Professor of Law at American University and presently Distinguished Professor of Law at University of California Hastings College of the Law, delivered the first Ruth Bader Ginsburg lecture in 2003. Her talk, “Beyond the Glass Ceiling: The Maternal Wall as a Barrier to Gender Equality,” discussed the cutting-edge legal theories developing in the fight against family care responsibility discrimination and charted a course toward a new reconstructive feminism supporting women both in their traditional caregiving roles and in their desire for access to the traditionally masculine preserves of high status wage labor. Professor Williams’ keynote was followed by commentary from Professor William Bielby, discussing social science research on the maternal wall and its effect on litigation; Professor Susan Bisom-Rapp, analyzing employer reactions to maternal wall lawsuits; Jennifer Roback Morris, critiquing equality jurisprudence; and Professor Julie Greenberg, presenting a unifying theory of gender nonconformity that could be used to assist working mothers and other gender nonconformists.