Skip to content

Martha S. West

Professor of Law Emerita


B.A., magna cum laude History, Brandeis University 1967, Phi Beta Kappa

J.D., summa cum laude, Indiana University 1974


Professor Martha West retired from full-time teaching in 2007. She served as General Counsel for the American Association of University Professors from 2008 to 2010. She continued to teach a yearly undergraduate course, Gender and Law, for the UC Davis Women’s Studies program until 2012. During her 25 years of law teaching, from 1982 to 2007, Professor West taught courses on Employment Discrimination, Labor Law, and Sex-based Discrimination. According to Professor West, "Employment issues such as race or gender discrimination crystallized many of America’s social controversies. It was both an exciting and frustrating time to be teaching employment law---exciting because of the rapid changes in the law, yet frustrating because most people assumed these problems were solved years ago. Even today, most white Americans simply do not see the continuing race and gender discrimination evident in mainstream society." Professor West's research focused on discrimination against women faculty in higher education. Her publications include the law school textbook, SEX-BASED DISCRIMINATION (6th ed. 2006), co-authored with Professor Herma Hill Kay, UC Berkeley, and law review articles on sex discrimination in employment: Preventing Sexual Harassment: the Federal Court's Wake-Up Call for Women, Brooklyn Law Review (2002); Faculty Women's Struggle for Equality at UC Davis, UCLA Women's Law Journal (2000), and Gender Bias in Academic Robes: the Law's Failure to Protect Women Faculty, Temple Law Review (1994). Professor West has served as an expert witness in faculty sex discrimination lawsuits against research universities. She chaired a committee of the American Association of University Professors to develop a model policy for universities on integrating faculty members' work and family responsibilities, adopted by AAUP in 2001.

In May 2005, Professor West and three colleagues at UC Davis issued the report, "Unprecedented Urgency: Gender Discrimination in Faculty Hiring at the University of California," analyzing the University of California's drastic decline in hiring women faculty after the UC Regents abolished affirmative action in 1995 and California passed Proposition 209 in 1996. The report was funded by the Ford Foundation through the Institute for Women's Leadership, Rutgers University.

At the Law School, Professor West served as associate dean from 1988-92, and Clinical Director from 1993-97. Professor West created the Law School's Family Protection and Legal Assistance Clinic in 1998, receiving the first federal grant in California under the Violence Against Women Act. She also supervised the externship program in employment relations law for 25 years.

In December 2005, Professor West completed eight years as a member of the Davis School Board, serving as president of the Board in 2001 and 2004. During those years, she coordinated two school parcel tax campaigns and one facilities bond campaign, providing funding for a new junior high school and two elementary schools in Davis.

Prior to coming to Davis, Professor West clerked for the federal district court in Ft. Wayne, Indiana, in 1974-75. She practiced employment law with Ice Miller Donadio & Ryan in Indianapolis from 1975-78, and then represented members of the United Auto Workers in personal legal matters with UAW Legal Services from 1979-1982.

Subject Areas

Women's Rights, Employment Discrimination Law, Labor Law, Education Law, Higher Education Law, Public Sector Employment

Selected Career Highlights

  • General Counsel for the American Association of University Professors, 2008 - 2010
  • Associate Dean of UC Davis School of Law, 1988-1992
  • 1997 recipient of the Law School's Distinguished Teaching Award
  • 1991 recipient of the YWCA Outstanding Woman of the Year Award in the field of education
  • 2000 recipient of the Frances Newell Carr Award from Women Lawyers of Sacramento for outstanding contributions to women in law
  • 2002 recipient of California NOW Award for outstanding women in education
  • Member of the American Association of University Professor's Committee on Academic Freedom and Tenure, 2002-05, and its Committee on the Status of Women in the Profession, 1996-02 (consultant, 2002-2010)

Selected Publications

Unprecedented Urgency: Gender Discrimination in Faculty Hiring at the University of California, Report funded by the Institute for Women's Leadership, Rutgers University, as part of its project, "Re-affirming Action: Designs for Diversity in Higher Education." (2005) (with G. Laky, K. Lokke, K.T. Paw U, S. Ham) An abbreviated adaptation of this report appears in DOING DIVERSITY IN HIGHER EDUCATION (Winnifred R. Brown, ed., 2009), chapter 6.

SEX-BASED DISCRIMINATION: TEXT, CASES and MATERIALS, 6th ed. (West Publishing Co., 2006) (with H. Kay)

Avoiding Use of Stereotypes in Labor and Employment Arbitration: Sexual Harassment’s Peculiar Posture in Labor Arbitration, ARBITRATION 2007, PROCEEDINGS OF THE 60TH ANNUAL MEETING OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF ARBITRATORS , 226 (MAY, 2007)

AAUP FACULTY GENDER EQUITY INDICATORS 2006, American Association of University Professors (2006) (with J. Curtis)

Preventing Sexual Harassment the Federal Courts' Wake-up Call for Women, 68 BROOK. L. REV. 457 (2002)

Faculty Women's Struggle for Equality at UC Davis, 10 UCLA WOMEN'S L. J. 259 (2000)

Equitable Funding of Public Schools under State Constitutional Law, J. OF GENDER, RACE & JUSTICE 279 (1999)

The Historical Roots of Affirmative Action, 10 LA RAZA L.J. 607 (1998)

Gender Bias in Academic Robes: The Law's Failure to Protect Women Faculty, 67 TEMP. L. REV. 67 (1994)

The Eastern Airlines Strike: Legal Implications, INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS RESEARCH ASSOCIATION ANNUAL PROCEEDINGS, 247, Dec. 1989

The Case Against Reinstatement in Wrongful Discharge, 1988 U. ILL. L. REV. 1 (1988)

Life after Bildisco: Section 1113 and the Duty to Bargain in Good Faith, 47 OHIO ST. L.J. 65 (1986)

Sex Classifications in the Social Security Benefit Structure, 9 IND. L.J. 181 (1973), cited in Weinberger v. Wiesenfeld, 420 U.S. 636, 644 (1975)

History Lessons: Affirmative Action, THE WOMEN'S REVIEW OF BOOKS 19 (1996)

Women Faculty: Frozen in Time, ACADEME 26 (July-August 1995) (American Association of University Professors)

Amicus Brief for Equal Rights Advocates, November 1994, in Fisher v. Vassar College, 70 F.3d 1420 (2d Cir. 1995), 114 F. 3d 1332 (1997) (en banc)

The Limited Role of the U.S. Constitution in American Labor Law, presented at the U.S. Mexico Comparative Constitutional Law Conference, Mexico City, 1988. Printed in Spanish in DERECHO CONSTITUCIONAL COMPARADO MEXICO-ESTADOS UNIDOS, Tomo II, 732 (1990)