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Book Reception for Accidental Feminism by Swethaa S. Ballakrishnen

  • When: March 11, 2021, 3–4:30 pm
  • Where: Zoom

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Join the UCI Law Center for Empirical Research on the Legal Profession (CERLP) and the American Bar Foundation (ABF) to celebrate the publication of Accidental Feminism: Gender Parity and Selective Mobility among India's Professional Elite (Princeton University Press 2021).

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The celebration will feature three main readers:

  •      Ronit Dinovitzer, Professor of Sociology, University of Toronto and ABF Faculty Fellow
  •      Angela Onwuachi-Willig, Dean and Professor of Law, Boston University School of Law
  •      Susan Sturm, George M. Jaffin Professor of Law and Social Responsibility, Columbia Law School

In addition, the event will include an introduction by Bryant Garth (ABF Director Emeritus and Distinguished Professor of Law Emeritus at UC Irvine School of Law), remarks by the author, Swethaa S. Ballakrishnen (Assistant Professor of Law, UC Irvine School of Law), and a toast by David Wilkins (Lester Kissel Professor of Law and faculty director of the Center on the Legal Profession at Harvard Law School).

About the Book

In India, elite law firms offer a surprising oasis for women within a hostile, predominantly male industry. Less than 10 percent of the country’s lawyers are female, but women in the most prestigious firms are significantly represented both at entry and partnership. Elite workspaces are notorious for being unfriendly to new actors, so what allows for aberration in certain workspaces?

Drawing from observations and interviews with more than 130 elite professionals, Accidental Feminism examines how a range of underlying mechanisms—gendered socialization and essentialism, family structures and dynamics, and firm and regulatory histories—afford certain professionals egalitarian outcomes that are not available to their local and global peers. Juxtaposing findings on the legal profession with those on elite consulting firms, Swethaa Ballakrishnen reveals that parity arises not from a commitment to create feminist organizations, but from structural factors that incidentally come together to do gender differently. Simultaneously, their research offers notes of caution: while conditional convergence may create equality in ways that more targeted endeavors fail to achieve, “accidental” developments are hard to replicate, and are, in this case, buttressed by embedded inequalities. Ballakrishnen examines whether gender parity produced without institutional sanction should still be considered feminist.

In offering new ways to think about equality movements and outcomes, Accidental Feminism forces readers to critically consider the work of intention in progress narratives.

To learn more and purchase the book, visit the Princeton University Press website. Use P239 for 30% Author Discount.

About the Author

Swethaa S. Ballakrishnen is an Assistant Professor of Law (and, by courtesy, of Sociology, Asian American Studies, and Criminology, Law and Society) at the University of California, Irvine. They are also affiliated faculty at the HLS Center on the Legal Profession, co-director of UCI Law's Center for Empirical Research on the Legal Profession, and 2017-18 AccessLex Visiting Scholar at the American Bar Foundation

Primarily oriented within a critical socio-legal praxis, Ballakrishnen’s research examines the intersections between law, globalization and stratification from a critical feminist perspective. Their work has appeared in, among other journals, the Law and Society Review, Law and Social Inquiry, International Journal of the Legal Profession, and the Canadian Review of Sociology. AccidentalFeminism is Ballakrishnen's first book. 

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