Pulling Back the Curtain: Implicit Bias in the Law School Dean Search Process

Neitz, Michele Benedetto, Pulling Back the Curtain: Implicit Bias in the Law School Dean Search Process (February 23, 2019). 49 Seton Hall L. Rev. 629 (2019).. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3241031 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3241031

The dean search process can be viewed as a bellwether for the health of a law school. Within the microcosm of a civilized “dean search committee” can lie the tensions of rival factions attempting to impose their visions for the next chapter of the law school enterprise. If law school revenue is down, the factions may be fighting for their own survival.

Not surprisingly, therefore, the dean search process is a lightning rod for the stresses facing law school faculty and staff and university administrators. As a result, the implicit biases of individuals and institutions can play a major (if unseen) role in the selection of a dean. Despite the regularity of dean searches in American law schools, no scholar to date has fully examined the ramifications of implicit bias in the dean search process.

This article stems from my experience chairing multiple dean searches and my research interest in the causes and effects of implicit bias. Part II reviews the role of a law school dean, with special consideration of the ways the Great Recession and its effects transformed the role of the dean. Part III describes the typical dean search process and evaluates dean diversity statistics to determine which candidates are selected for these powerful roles in today’s law schools. Part IV introduces the concept of implicit bias, specifically focusing on in-group favoritism. Part IV also analyzes the ways implicit biases can manifest in the dean search process, focusing on racial, gender, socioeconomic, and sexual orientation biases. Finally, Part V suggests recommendations to minimize implicit bias on the part of dean search committees, and offers new and creative ways to change the traditional dean search process.

New Paper: ‘Compounded Disparities: Health Equity at the Intersection of Disability, Race, and Ethnicity’

In 2017, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine convened a roundtable on The Intersections Among Health Disparities, Health Equity, and Health Literacy and commissioned a paper to be presented at the workshop.

The Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund (DREDF) was selected as the lead team in authoring the paper “Compounded Disparities: Health Equity at the Intersection of Disability, Race, and Ethnicity.”

The paper’s conclusion: “If we are going to increase health equity and improve health outcomes for people with disabilities—particularly those at the intersections of diverse race, ethnicity, and language characteristics—the covert biases and discrimination against these populations will require us to correct the false assumptions about disability, race, and ethnicity that underlie the way we deliver health care, the historical development of our public health systems, and our disregard for the health disparities experienced by some groups as a natural consequence of being in the group, rather than inequities to be corrected.”

• DREDF Senior Attorney, Silvia Yee
• DREDF Senior Policy Advisor, Mary Lou Breslin

• Tawara D. Goode with the Department of Pediatrics, Georgetown University Medical Center and National Center for Cultural Competence, Georgetown University Center for Child and Human Development
• Susan M. Havercamp with the Health Promotion and Healthcare Parity Program / Nisonger Center-UCEDD
• Willi Horner-Johnson with the Institute on Development and Disability, Oregon Health and Science University
• Lisa I. Iezzoni with the Mongan Institute Health Policy Center, Massachusetts General Hospital and the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Massachusetts General Hospital
• Gloria Krahn with College of Public Health and Human Sciences, Oregon State University

Download the full report here.

‘Grey’s Anatomy’ Episode Tackles Implicit Bias

Kelly McCreary, Grey’s Anatomy star and EJS board member, was part of last night’s episode illustrating how implicit associations between Black youth and crime lead to the murder of innocent children. The episode is heartbreaking, especially when Dr. Miranda Bailey (Chandra Wilson) and Dr. Ben Warren (Jason George) give their son “the talk.” This episode in another example of how art and popular culture can educate and enlighten audiences on issues related to race.

THR: Why ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ Just Overtly Tackled Unconscious Bias 

Watch the episode online.

Kelly McCreary as Dr. Maggie Pierce

EJS coordinates the National Implicit Bias Network, a leading resource and voice on implicit bias and the phenomenon’s interaction with structural racism and the resulting inequality in areas such as the legal system, law enforcement, education, employment and housing.