Sex-Bias Topics in the Criminal Law Course: A Survey of Criminal Law Professors

This Article addresses the empirical question of whether law school curricula have advanced to the stage of integrating materials on gender-related topics into core courses, thus exposing students to gender-related topics in the law and presenting a perspective shaped by women’s as well as men’s experiences. We examine one of the central courses of the law school curriculum: criminal law. Although some of the attention directed to sex discrimination in law has focused on specific areas of criminal law such as rape and spouse abuse, a more systematic scrutiny of the substantive rules of criminal law and the ways in which they are applied is needed. Does the criminal law ensure the just treatment of women as defendants, victims, and witnesses? Is sex bias in the law exposed and dealt with in law schools, courts, and legislatures? Are changes in the social roles of women and men reflected in the assumptions of the legal system? We examined these questions in the context of the criminal law course as the first step in a more comprehensive study involving the whole law school curriculum.