“…[P]robably the most exciting day was the day I found out I became dean. And I remember the person who phoned me said, ‘Are you sitting down?’ And I said, ‘No.’ And the person said, ‘Well, you are about to make history.’ And I was, like, ‘Oh, my God.’ [I]t was scary, of course, but really, really incredible because I was the first woman.” – Dean Mayo Moran
I am encouraged.
Elena Kagan isn’t the only one getting a promotion this year. Recently, Kimberley Brooks and Camille A. Nelson were appointed as deans at the Schulich School of Law (Dalhousie) and Suffolk Law School, respectively.
The last year alone has seen the appointment of quite a few female law scholars to the rank of dean in Canadian law schools, namely the aforementioned Professor Brooks, Jinyan Li, Odette Snow and Lorna Turnbull. In fact, of the fifteen law schools in Canada, a record breaking eight of them (more than half!) were very recently or are currently headed by women:
- Kim Brooks (Schulich – Dalhousie)
- Jinyan Li (Osgoode) Interim dean (2009-2010)
- Mayo Moran (U of T)
- Beth Bilson (Saskatchewan) Acting dean
- Maryann Bobinski (UBC)
- Donna Greschner (Victoria)
- Lorna Turnbull (Manitoba) Acting dean
- Odette Snow (Moncton)
- Marie-France Albert (Moncton)
It is interesting to note, however, that all of the deans of the law schools in Quebec are Caucasian and male. I suppose change is slower in some parts of the country…
Camille Nelson deserves special mention, not only because is she a Canadian appointed as a dean at an American law school (Suffolk School of Law to be exact), but because she is a woman of colour — the first woman and the first person of colour to hold the position of dean in the 104-year history of the law school. Although not recent news, it should also be noted that it is a woman who currently heads one of the top law schools in the States; Martha Minow is currently the dean at Harvard Law School.
Now, this is news. This is ground-breaking. I am so used to reading articles and blogs bemoaning the lack of diversity and upward female mobility in the legal profession, but I write this article on a happier and (slightly) more optimistic note. One can only hope that the trend will continue. I can finally see cracks in the glass ceiling (even if only in academia) and as a female law student and a minority, I am encouraged.