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lady hale: gender reassignment and rights to privacy November 1, 2017

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Do a person’s legal rights with respect to gender reassignment require that that person’s official records suggesting that gender reassignment has occurred be expunged from official records? Perhaps the UK’s Universal Credit records will achieve this. Meanwhile, taking account of the principle of proportionality, according to the UK Supreme Court, the answer is no, despite some sympathy for the plaintiff.

Here’s the sympathy in Lady Hale’s November 1, 2017 judgment:

“We lead women’s lives: we have no choice”. Thus has the Chief Justice of Canada, the Rt Hon Beverley McLachlin, summed up the basic truth that women and men do indeed lead different lives. How much of this is down to unquestionable biological differences, how much to social conditioning, and how much to other people’s views of what it means to be a woman or a man, is all debateable and the accepted wisdom is perpetually changing. But what does not change is the importance, even the centrality, of gender in any individual’s sense of self. Over the centuries many people, but particularly women, have bitterly resented and fought against the roles which society has assigned to their gender. Genuine equality between the sexes is still a work in progress. But that does not mean that such women or men have not felt entirely confident that they are indeed a woman or a man. Gender dysphoria is something completely different – the overwhelming sense that one has been born into the wrong body, with the wrong anatomy and the wrong physiology. Those of us who, whatever our occasional frustrations with the expectations of society or our own biology, are nevertheless quite secure in the gender identities with which we were born, can scarcely begin to understand how it must be to grow up in the wrong body and then to go through the long and complex process of adapting that body to match the real self. But it does not take much imagination to understand that this is a deeply personal and private matter; that a person who has undergone gender reassignment will need the whole world to recognise and relate to her or to him in the reassigned gender; and will want to keep to an absolute minimum any unwanted disclosure of the history. This is not only because other people can be insensitive and even cruel; the evidence is that transphobic incidents are increasing and that transgender people experience high levels of anxiety about this. It is also because of their deep need to live successfully and peacefully in their reassigned gender, something which non-transgender people can take for granted.

girls doubt that women can be brilliant January 26, 2017

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It happens at age 6, according to a recent study. Thinking about the brilliant women I have known in my life, and know, I am devastated (but not really surprised). When I was in my 20s the future world I imagined for women was so much better than the one I now live in.

gender and scholarship July 1, 2015

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Formatting a recent paper according to Palgrave’s criteria – which ask for author citations by initials and surname (although unlike the Blue Book they require the identification of the publisher of books) – I was struck by how disturbing I found it to be eliminating hints of the gender of the authors I cite, even while recognizing that gender neutral citations might be beneficial.

formidable women… femmes formidables September 30, 2014

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Today, reading Sergio Puig’s article, Social Capital in the Arbitration Market (the link is to the SSRN version, although I read the published version in volume 25 of the European Journal of International Law at 387-424 (2014)) – a fascinating social network analysis of international arbitration based on ICSID data – I was struck by a reference to the existence of a small number of “formidable women” (e.g. at p 407) in the group of prominent and mostly male arbitrators (“grand old men”). Professor Puig attributes the “formidable women” description to Jason Yackee’s article Controlling the International Investment Law Agency. I’m not sure what I think about this descriptor. It may be intended as complimentary, even a recognition that women have to be even better than men to be part of the club. But I have some reservations. I do know I’d rather be described as formidable in French than in English!

lady hale on women judges October 2, 2013

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From the Independent:

Lady Justice Hale, who is still the only woman amongst the 12 Supreme Court judges, said: “While I am flattered and proud to have been the first woman to have been appointed as a law lord in 2004, I don’t want to be the last. I’m disappointed that in the 10 years since I was appointed, not one among the 13 subsequent appointments to this court has been a woman.”

what it would be like to teach a course based on decisions of women judges… September 28, 2013

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A thought experiment prompted (in part) by reading this article.

gender and economic policy October 26, 2012

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MEPs rejected Yves Mersch as a candidate for the ECB Executive Board on the basis that insufficient attention is being paid to the issue of gender (the decision is here). If Mersch is appointed to the Executive Board it will likely be all male at least until 2018.

Press reports suggest that the Parliament’s emphasis on the need for gender diversity at the ECB is a distraction from the serious issues of addressing the crisis, and make the EU look less credible. But this downplaying of the issue seems to me to be emblematic of the problem. Not working to take advantage of the talent of women as well as of men is short-sighted.

The World Economic Forum’s Gender Gap Report for 2012 which examines the gender gap in countries around the world states:

The correlation among competitiveness, income and development and gender gaps is evident… While correlation does not prove causality, it is consistent with the theory and mounting evidence that empowering women means a more efficient use of a nation’s human talent endowment and that reducing gender inequality enhances productivity and economic growth. Over time, therefore, a nation’s competitiveness depends, among other things, on whether and how it educates and utilizes its female talent.

increasing participation of women in corporate boards March 5, 2012

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The EU Commission launched a consultation today on gender imbalance on corporate boards (see the Progress Report). The consultation questions move from asking how effective self-regulation is to asking whether there should be sanctions for not meeting objectives. Meanwhile the OECD has a Gender Browser which provides access to data on this issue.

uk government consults on gender and insurance December 9, 2011

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The UK is consulting on its proposed response to the Test-Achats decision. The announcement of the consultation states:

The Consultation document seeks views on the Government’s legal interpretation of the judgment and the accompanying draft regulations that amend the Equality Act. It also seeks comments on the Government’s impact assessment and requests additional data that would contribute to a better understanding of the impact on consumers and insurers. Finally, it asks for views on some of the key issues arising from the judgment, such as the scope of indirect discrimination.

underinvestment in girls September 1, 2011

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Jad Chaaban & Wendy Cunningham, Measuring the Economic Gain of Investing in Girls : the Girl Effect Dividend, World Bank Policy Research Working Paper (August 2011):

Although girls are approximately half the youth population in developing countries, they contribute less than their potential to the economy. The objective of this paper is to quantify the opportunity cost of girls’ exclusion from productive employment with the hope that stark figures will lead policymakers to reconsider the current underinvestment in girls. The paper explores the linkages between investing in girls and potential increases in national income by examining three widely prevalent aspects of adolescent girls’ lives: early school dropout, teenage pregnancy and joblessness. The countries included in the analysis are: Bangladesh, Brazil, Burundi, China, Ethiopia, India, Kenya, Malawi, Nigeria, Paraguay, Senegal, South Africa, Tanzania, and Uganda. The authors use secondary data to allow for some comparability across countries. They find that investing in girls so that they would complete the next level of education would lead to lifetime earnings of today’s cohort of girls that is equivalent to up to 68 percent of annual gross domestic product. When adjusting for ability bias and labor demand elasticities, this figure falls to 54 percent, or 1.5 percent per year. Closing the inactivity rate between girls and boys would increase gross domestic product by up to 5.4 percent, but when accounting for students, male-female wage gaps and labor demand elasticities, the joblessness gap between girls and their male counterparts yields an increase in gross domestic product of up to 1.2 percent in a single year. The cost of adolescent pregnancy as a share of gross domestic could be as high as 30 percent or as low as 1 percent over a girl’s lifetime, depending on the assumptions used to calculate the losses.