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Discussions of presumptions of incompetence and gender sidelining all address challenges that women, especially women of color, face in leadership roles. This Article explores these topics in the context of law deans.

This Article starts with updated data on the number of women law deans, including women of color, and demonstrates increased numbers of both women and women of color in deanships. It then shifts to plausible explanations for this growth: some optimistic and some more skeptical. It may be no coincidence that as the job became less desirable, women were appointed in greater numbers.

Next, this Article provides narrative descriptions of women’s experiences in leadership, including experiences unique to women of color, such as common stories of presumptions of incompetence, and gender sidelining. This Part also dissects women deans’ experiences with presumptions of incompetence and gender sidelining, and explores relationship and family patterns revealed by survey responses. It also suggests potential trends and truths.

The next Part of this Article develops ideas on how to continue increasing the number of women law deans and provide them support for success.