Still Unequal

STILL UNEQUAL: THE SHAMEFUL TRUTH ABOUT WOMEN AND JUSTICE IN AMERICA is a carefully researched and documented report on the blatant discrimination against women in all phases of the legal system. Lorraine Dusky starts with the continuing unequal treatment of women in law schools. Although as of 1996 forty percent of law students are women, the textbooks, curriculum, and classroom climate are biased against them.

It is no better for women once they join the legal profession. The status of women in law firms typically is marginal and their salaries significantly lower than that of men. Women are made partners much less readily than men and share unequally in the profits of the firm. The increased competition among lawyers and law firms starting in the early 1990’s has only served to make many males more hostile toward the emerging group of women in the profession. Female attorneys in the courtroom still face harassment from sexist judges and lawyers. Under such conditions it is virtually unthinkable that women as plaintiffs or defendants in the courtroom would receive equal treatment.

STILL UNEQUAL is a compelling book. It specifically names many law firms and lawyers, professors, and judges who perpetuate sexist attitudes. It provides the historical background of laws that fail to treat men and women equally and traces the difficulties women have in challenging the system. Perhaps most significantly, it reminds readers of how far-reaching the law is in virtually every aspect of life—marriage, domestic violence, child custody, adoption, rape, sexual relationships, property rights, jobs, housing, education, and so on—and it emphatically demonstrates that, even at the end of the twentieth century, “to its very core, the legal system in this country is biased against women.”