Women and the Law Program

History and Mission

The faculty of American University Washington College of Law founded the Women and the Law Program in 1984 to promote the integration of women’s rights and gender studies into legal education, practice and doctrine.  If we had a mission statement, it would look something like this:

  • Encourage the development of feminist legal thought;
  • Educate emerging legal scholars in gender studies;
  • Create supportive networks of feminist legal scholars, practitioners and activists;
  • Disseminate scholarly and teaching materials that integrate gender into the study of law.

Special Projects

The faculty, staff and students of the Women and the Law Program have created special projects to facilitate deeper engagement with some of the most important topics of the day.  The Student Debt and Education Justice Project is one such effort.  Other current projects include:

Interdisciplinary Project on Human Trafficking

Gender and International Criminal Law

Gender, Health and Justice


Comparative Family Law

Faculty and Staff

Learn more about the staff and faculty affiliated with the Women and the Law Program.

Why Student Debt?

We are often asked why a gender-studies program at a law school decided to focus on student debt and education justice.  From its inception, the Women and the Law Program has pushed into areas not traditionally considered suitable for a feminist  or gendered inquiry (such as Legal Education, Intellectual Property, International Criminal Law or Health Law.)   Each time we open up a new subject matter, we discover that gender operates in important ways in every area  of law and that the tools of feminist theory are helpful in revealing the assumptions underlying seemingly neutral laws and rules.  Taking an intersectional look at student debt has led us to fascinating questions about how states and private actors distribute resources, how privilege operates in this context, and how institutions (governmental, educational, financial) create, reinforce or disrupt race, class and gender-based norms.

As feminists, we are committed to an expansive understanding of social justice.  As educators, we care about both the quality of higher education and the ability of all people to benefit from it.  And as lawyers, we are keenly aware of how law– both in broad policy and specific procedural and substantive rules– deeply shapes the lives of individuals, families, and communities in ways that often seem invisible.  Learn more about the project at the About SJED page.

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