Gender and the Law

Course number: LAW 3070

This course will explore ideas about gender differentiation in law, the legal system, legal education and the legal profession. It will offer an introduction to the feminist critique of law and feminist theories about sexual equality and discrimination.


We will explore how law is an agent of social ordering and how it can be used to effect social change for women. After some introductory seminars on methodology and theory (feminist and legal) we will consider the history of women’s status in law.  This will set the foundation for considering current legal issues and varying viewpoints on the intersection of law and gender issues.

We will focus on issues connected to bodies, families, religions and economics from a gendered perspective. Some of the issues discussed may include:

– restrictions the law may impose on mothers and pregnant women

– legal distinctions between common law relationships and marital relationships

– the treatment of gender in the criminal justice system

– inclusion and exclusion in sport

– how other legal systems treat and view gender, including indigenous legal systems


The class will be a discussion-style seminar. Guests will be invited to help share personal and professional experiences on the issues being considered. Students will have an important role to play in ensuring that multiple perspectives are considered, explored and valued. Respect and sharing will be among the key values associated with the group interaction.


As this is a perspectives course, each student will be required to prepare to help lead the discussion on one of the seminar topics. You will also be expected to prepare for each class by completing the required reading and engaging in critical thinking. In addition, each student will be tasked with the preparation of a research paper (or report for a community organization on a topic that will be determined in collaboration with partner organizations). The research paper/report will demonstrate independent research, critical thinking, effective communication and originality. The paper/report will be worth 80% of the final grade and class participation will be worth 20% of the final grade.

BOOKS: A collection of readings will be prepared for the course.



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