Category Archives: Discrimination

The radical plan to change how Harvard teaches economics

Source: Dylan Matthews, Vox, May 22, 2019

Raj Chetty has an idea for introducing students to econ that could transform the field — and society…..

….Chetty has made his name as an empirical economist, working with a small army of colleagues and research assistants to try to get real-world findings with relevance to major political questions. And he’s focused on the roots and consequences of economic and racial inequality. He used huge amounts of IRS tax data to map inequality of opportunity in the US down to the neighborhood, and to show that black boys in particular enjoy less upward mobility than white boys.

Ec 1152 is an introduction to that kind of economics. There’s little discussion of supply and demand curves, of producer or consumer surplus, or other elementary concepts introduced in classes like Ec 10. There is no textbook, only a set of empirical papers. The material is relatively cutting-edge. Of the 12 papers students are required to read, 11 were released in 2010 or after. Half of the assigned papers were released in 2017 or 2018. Chetty co-authored a third of them.

And while most economics courses at Harvard require Ec 10 as a prerequisite, Ec 1152 does not. Freshmen can take it as their first economics course…..

….If this were just a pedagogical shift at Harvard, that would be one thing. But Chetty is aiming to make the course a model for other schools. After the financial crisis, many economists have concluded that Econ 101 is broken across the university system and is not preparing students for a world where markets frequently fail. Chetty’s class offers a new way to teach an introductory course, yet at the same time is more closely aligned with what contemporary economic research looks like. The course’s lecture videos are already available online, for students at other institutions to use…..

Be Careful What You Wish For: Ronald Reagan, Donald Trump, The Assault on Civil Rights, and The Surprising Story of How Title VII Got Its Private Right of Action

Source: David B. Oppenheimer, Henry Cornillie, Henry Bluestone Smith, Thao Thai, Richard Treadwell, Berkeley Journal of Employment and Labor Law, Vol. 39 No. 1, 2018, Posted: 9 May 2019

From the abstract:
This essay reviews the impact of President Ronald Reagan’s policies on civil rights enforcement in the 1980s, as he tried to turn back the clock on civil rights. Reagan devastated the civil rights enforcement agencies, as he pandered to the white nationalists who helped him win election. But Reagan’s attempts ultimately failed, and leave behind an important lesson for President Donald Trump. Reagan’s appointments to and policies at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division, and the Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) seriously damaged civil rights enforcement. But employment discrimination law has survived and continues to be an often-effective tool against racism, misogyny, homophobia, religious hatred, and other forms of discrimination. Title VII cases (and claims under parallel statutes) continue to be a major part of the caseload in federal courts. Why? Because the Civil Rights Act is largely enforced by private civil rights groups and lawyers in private practice who bring cases before independent judges pursuant to a private right of action.

Did a progressive Congress have the foresight to recognize that a private right of action would protect the victims of discrimination from future administrations hostile to civil rights, and thus include it in the statute as a check against enforcement agencies captured by civil rights opponents? Hardly. Rather, moderate and conservative Senate Republicans, resigned to the fact that an employment discrimination law was inevitable, and fearful of a powerful federal agency that would restrict business autonomy in the manner of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), substituted a private right of action for agency adjudication in an attempt to sabotage the effectiveness of Title VII. In 1964, the adoption of a private right of action was widely seen as a great loss for civil rights advocates, turning Title VII from an enforceable law to an ineffectual call for voluntary compliance with anti-discrimination policies. Almost no one foresaw the development of a private bar of plaintiffs’ employment discrimination lawyers.

Those who tried to sabotage the enforcement of civil rights through a private right of action should be turning in their graves, having inadvertently given civil rights advocates a powerful tool to resist assaults on civil rights.

Women’s Rights: Primary Sources and Teaching Activities

Source: National Archives, DocsTeach, 2019

Women’s Rights and Roles in American History

When our Constitution was written, it was silent on women. Excluded from most of the rights and privileges of citizenship, women operated in limited and rigid roles while enslaved women were excluded from all. Yet women have actively participated as citizens—organizing, marching, petitioning—since the founding of our country. Sometimes quietly, and sometimes with a roar, women’s roles have been redefined. Use this page to find primary sources and document-based teaching activities related to women’s rights and changing roles in American history. Many of the documents, photographs, and other sources are also featured in the exhibits Rightfully Hers: American Women and the Vote, at the National Archives Museum in Washington, DC, and One Half of the People: Advancing Equality for Women, traveling the country.

Related:
Shall Not Be Denied: Women Fight for the Vote
Source: Library of Congress, 2019

This exhibition will tell the story of the long campaign for women’s suffrage – considered the largest reform movement in American history – which lasted more than seven decades. The struggle was not for the fainthearted. For years, determined women organized, lobbied, paraded, petitioned, lectured, picketed, and faced imprisonment.

The exhibition draws from the Library’s extensive collection of personal papers of such figures as Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Lucy Stone, Mary Church Terrell, Harriot Stanton Blatch, Nannie Helen Burroughs, and Carrie Chapman Catt, as well as the organizational records of the National Woman’s Party and the National American Woman Suffrage Association, among others. Documents, images, video and audio recordings trace the movement leading to the women’s rights convention at Seneca Falls, New York, in 1848, through the contributions of suffragists who worked to persuade women that they deserved the same rights as men, the divergent political strategies and internal divisions they overcame, the push for a federal women’s suffrage amendment and the legacy of this movement.

Related Links

  • Votes for Women: Selected Images from the Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division
  • Web Guide: Nineteenth Amendment, Researcher and Reference Services
  • Digital Collections

  • Susan B. Anthony Papers
  • Carrie Chapman Catt Papers
  • Elizabeth Cady Stanton Papers
  • Mary Church Terrell Papers
  • National American Woman Suffrage Association Papers
  • Women of Protest: Photographs from the Records of the National Woman’s Party
  • Suffrage Sheet Music
  • For Teachers

  • Primary Source Set: Women’s Suffrage
  • Suffrage Strategies: Voices for Votes
  • Votes for Women: Selections from the National American Woman Suffrage Association Collection 1848-1921
  • Votes for Women: Suffrage Pictures
  • Women Have Had The Right To Vote For 100 Years. Here’s How To Celebrate
    Source: Mikaela Lefrak, WAMU, May 16, 2019

    The history of women’s suffrage and the landscape of Washington, D.C. are inextricably tied. It took decades of women organizing near the Capitol, picketing outside the White House, lobbying Congress and marching on the National Mall to win the right to vote. This June 4 marks the 100-year anniversary of Congress’ passage of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which prohibits the government from denying the right to vote on the basis of sex. Museums and institutions around the District are marking the centennial with exhibitions on the movement’s history and leaders. Here are five of our top picks for places to learn about key women suffragists, the movement’s strategic wins and moral failings and how the fight for voting rights continues today.

    1. Untold Stories: The National Portrait Gallery …..
    2. Primary Sources: The National Archives …..
    3. The Room Where It Happened: Belmont-Paul Women’s Equality National Monument …..
    4. Personal Papers Galore: The Library of Congress …..
    5: Tables And Wagons: The National Museum of American History …..
    …..

    Women are filing more harassment claims in the #MeToo era. They’re also facing more retaliation.

    Source: Alex Press, Vox, May 9, 2019

    …. Numbers released by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency responsible for enforcing civil rights laws against gender, race, religious, and other forms of workplace discrimination, show that even as the overall number of complaints received is down 9.3 percent from 2017, complaints about sexual harassment rose 13.6 percent over the previous year. ….

    Is Algorithmic Affirmative Action Legal?

    Source: Jason R. Bent, Georgetown Law Journal, Forthcoming, Date Written: April 16, 2019

    From the abstract:
    It is now understood that machine learning algorithms can produce unintentionally biased results. For the last few years, legal scholars have been debating whether the disparate treatment or disparate impact theories available under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act are capable of protecting against algorithmic discrimination. But machine learning scholars are not waiting for the legal answer. Instead, they have been working to develop a wide variety of technological “fairness” solutions that can be used to constrain machine learning algorithms. They have discovered that simply blinding algorithms to protected characteristics like sex or race is insufficient to prevent algorithmic discrimination. Given enough data, algorithms will identify and leverage on proxies for the protected characteristics. Recognizing this, some scholars have proposed “fairness through awareness” or “algorithmic affirmative action” — actively using sensitive variables like race or sex to counteract unidentified sources of bias and achieve some mathematical measure of fairness in algorithmic decisions. But is algorithmic affirmative action legal? This article is the first to comprehensively consider that question under both Title VII and the Equal Protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The article evaluates the legality of the leading fairness techniques advanced in the machine learning literature, including group fairness, individual fairness, and counterfactual fairness. The article concludes that existing affirmative action doctrine under Title VII and existing constitutional equal protection jurisprudence leave sufficient room for at least some forms of algorithmic affirmative action.

    Authoritarianism Reimagined: The Riddle of Trump’s Base

    Source: David Norman Smith, The Sociological Quarterly, Latest Articles, April 22, 2019
    (subscription required)

    From the abstract:
    Social scientists are often reluctant to think that cruel words express actual personal cruelty—so when they hear people speak harshly about minorities or women, they tend to blame stress and anxiety, not hate. In that spirit, it is often said that voters who favored Donald Trump in 2016 supported him not because they vibrated with his vindictive rhetoric but rather because they were fearful about their finances. However, many recent studies, including my papers with Eric Hanley, undermine that claim. Financial worries were widespread and did not distinguish Republicans from Democrats in 2016. Rather, what typified Trump partisans was the vehemence of their prejudices—for a domineering leader who would “crush evil” and “get rid of rotten apples” and against feminists, liberals, immigrants, and minorities. My contention here is that grasping this point is essential if we hope to understand the kind of authoritarianism that Trump represents.

    Related:
    The Politics of Cruelty
    Source: Peter Kivisto, The Sociological Quarterly, Latest Articles, April 22, 2019
    (subscription required)

    From the abstract:
    The authoritarian tendencies evident in the Trump campaign and administration are framed by the idea of a “politics of cruelty,“ drawing on Judith Shlkar’s idea of the ”liberalism of fear,” current research using authoritarianism theory, and arguments concerning the impact of the political theology of white Christian nationalism.

    Reactionary Tribalism Redux: Right-Wing Populism and De-Democratization
    Source: Robert J. Antonio, The Sociological Quarterly, Latest Articles, April 22, 2019
    (subscription required)

    From the abstract:
    This article addresses the question of whether the social impacts, especially increased socioeconomic inequality, and formalization of democracy generated by the neoliberal economization of politics is an important albeit not singular driver of resurgent ethnocracial populism and illiberal democracy.

    Patrolling Public Schools: The Impact of Funding for School Police on Student Discipline and Long‐term Education Outcomes

    Source: Emily K. Weisburst, Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, Volume 38, Issue 2, Spring 2019
    (subscription required)

    From the abstract:
    As police officers have become increasingly common in U.S. public schools, their role in school discipline has often expanded. While there is growing public debate about the consequences of police presence in schools, there is scant evidence of the impact of police on student discipline and academic outcomes. This paper provides the first quasi‐experimental estimate of funding for school police on student outcomes, leveraging variation in federal Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) grants. Exploiting detailed data on over 2.5 million students in Texas, I find that federal grants for police in schools increase middle school discipline rates by 6 percent. The rise in discipline is driven by sanctions for low‐level offenses or school code of conduct violations. Further, I find that Black students experience the largest increases in discipline. I also find that exposure to a three‐year federal grant for school police is associated with a 2.5 percent decrease in high school graduation rates and a 4 percent decrease in college enrollment rates.

    Opportunity Discrimination: A Hidden Liability Employers Can Fix

    Source: Elizabeth Chika Tippett, Employee Rights and Employment Policy Journal, Forthcoming, Posted: April 5, 2019

    From the abstract:
    This article applies a model of workplace advancement where big employment decisions — like promotions and pay raises — are influenced in part by the disparate distribution of smaller opportunities over time. These smaller opportunities generally do not qualify as “adverse employment actions” for the purpose of a discrimination claim under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. However, their legal significance has been underestimated. The disparate denial of smaller opportunities has been successfully used as evidence of disparate treatment when plaintiffs are later denied a big opportunity.

    In addition, recent legislation passed in Washington state, the Equal Pay Opportunity Act, expanded gender discrimination law to more broadly protect women’s access to opportunities for advancement. The statute will likely encourage employers to scrutinize their distribution of smaller opportunities. In the MeToo era, other states may follow suit.

    This article argues that employers should identify and address disparities at the opportunity level to advance workplace equality. Drawing from social science research on discrimination in school discipline, employers could identify the particular decision points and contextual factors that drive disparities and use that information to address the problem. Such undertakings would also be compatible with existing internal employment structures.