Photo of Nancy Dowd

Nancy E. Dowd

David H. Levin Chair in Family Law
Emeritus Director, Center on Children & Families



Mailing Address:
Box #117626 Gainesville, FL 32611


(352) 273-0930

(352) 392-3005

Professor Dowd's research focuses on social justice issues connected to family law, and therefore touches on not only family law but also juvenile law, constitutional law, race and gender analysis, and social change theories. She is currently engaged in research and writing about a developmental model of equality and focusing on the life course of African American boys from birth to age 18. Two of Professor Dowd's most recent books focus on the radical reform needed in the juvenile justice system. Justice for Kids (NYU Press 2011) brings together activists and scholars to articulate ways to keep kids out of the juvenile justice system, by diversion into other more helpful and supportive resolutions. A New Juvenile Justice System (NYU Press 2015) articulates the vision of a new youth justice system focused on child well being and public safety. Her other recent book is The Man Question: Male Privilege and Subordination (2010), in which she explores masculinities theories as a means to expand gender analysis and also incorportate other hierarchies that affect gender, particularly race and class.

Professor Dowd served as the Director of the Center on Children and Families until 2015, and in that role focused on issues of juvenile justice, social justice, non-traditional families, gay and lesbian rights, and collaboration with the Center for the Study of Race and Race Relations on issues of race and families. While director, she was also involved with successful grants that established the Intimate Partner Violence Assistance Clinic led by Professor Teresa Drake, a groundbreaking collaboration between law and medicine to establish a cutting edge clinic. That work has exposed the importance of trauma informed scholarship and service, and feeds back into Professor Dowd's current scholarship as well.


J.D., Loyola University of Chicago School of Law (cum laude) University of Illinois M.A., University of Connecticut B.A., (with honors)

Teaching and Scholarship

Constitutional Law, Family Law, Feminist Jurisprudence, Employment Discrimination

Professional Activities

  • University of Florida: Joined College of Law as Professor, 1990; Trustee Research Fellow (1998-2000), Research Foundation Professorship (1998-2002), named Chesterfield Smith Professor 2001. Advisory Board, University Center for Excellence in Teaching (1995), University Athletic Association Board (1993-1995).
  • Visiting Faculty: Northeastern University School of Law, University of Western Australia, Murdoch University, University of Auckland.
  • Prior Legal Positions: Labor Law attorney Choate Hall & Stewart, Boston, MA. (1982-84); Summer Associate, Sidley & Austin, Chicago, Ill. (1980-81); Law Clerk for Judge Cobert Sprecher, U.S. Court of Appeals.
  • Organizations: Work and Family Subcommittee, American Association of University Professors (1999-present); Massachusetts Law Review editorial board (1989-1990); Family Policy Working Group (steering committee, co-coordinator) (1988-present); Consultant to Massachusetts Commission on Parenting Leave.

Constitutional Law (4 credits) - LAW 5501

  • Introduction to United States Constitutional Law. Topics include judicial enforcement of the Constitution to preserve individual liberties; judicial review; separation of powers; structure and powers of the federal government; and federalism.

Gender & The Law (3 credits) - LAW 6930

  • The goals of this class are to learn the major strands of feminist theory, and evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of each; to understand and evaluate areas of gender inequality from an antiessentialist perspective; and to consider strategies and goals for equality, and how equality might be accomplished by litigation, legislation, or grass roots activity.

Perspectives in Family Law (4 credits) - LAW 6711

  • Covers the law of the family, including cases, statutes and constitutional precedents relating to marriage, divorce, non-traditional families, child custody, child and spousal support, adoption and reproductive technologies. Students will complete exercises in negotiation and drafting of documents in a simulated family law transaction.

Advanced Topics in Family Law Seminar (2 credits) - LAW 6936

  • The seminar will be devoted to advanced topics and cutting edge issues in family law. The seminar will permit students to pursue a particular topic in family law by conducting a significant, in-depth research project which will be presented for critique and feedback to the seminar participants. The seminar will focus initially on readings concerning contemporary issues in family law, followed by students’ research and presentations. Projects may include conventional research papers, roughly equivalent to a law review student comment or note, or may propose any equivalent project in any form with the consent of the instructor, e.g., an advocacy project, legislative proposal, etc.

Prerequisites: Family Law or equivalent

Current Books

  • A New Juvenile Justice System: Total Reform for a Broken System (editor) (NYU Press, 2015)
  • Justice for Kids: Keeping Kids Out of the Juvenile Justice System (editor and author of introduction) (NYU Press, 2011)
  • The Man Question: Male Subordination and Privilege (NYU Press, 2010)
  • Handbook: Children, Culture and Violence (Nancy Dowd, Dorothy Singer, and Robin Fretwell Wilson, eds.) (Sage Publications, 2006)
  • Feminist Legal Theory: An Anti-Essentialist Reader (Nancy Dowd and Michelle Jacobs, eds.) (NYU Press, 2003)
  • Redefining Fatherhood (NYU Press, 2000)
  • In Defense of Single Parent Families (NYU Press, 1997)


  • A Developmental Equality Model for the Best Interests of Children, in Implementing Article 3 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child: Best Interests, Welfare and Well Being (Elaine E. Sutherland and LesleyAnne Barnes Macfarlane, eds) (Cambridge University Press, forthcoming 2016)
  • Introduction, in A New Juvenile Justice System: Total Reform for a Broken System (NYU Press 2015)
  • Collaborative Law at Divorce in the United States, in “Le ragioni degli altri". Mediazione e famiglia tra conflitto e dialogo: una prospettiva comparatistica ed interdisciplinare ("The reasons of the others". Mediation and family between conflict and dialogue: a comparative and interdisciplinary perspective) (edited by Elena Urso) 2014).
  • Unfinished Equality: The Case of Black Boys, 2 Indiana Journal of Law and Social Equality 36 (2013) (Symposium issue on social equality: looking forward and looking back)
  • What Men? The Essentialist Error of The End of Men, 93 Boston University Law Review 1203 (symposium on
  • Asking the Man Question: Masculinities Analysis and Feminist Theory, in Exploring Masculinities: Feminist Legal Theory Reflections, edited by Michael Thomson and Martha Fineman (Ashgate 2013).
  • Conceptualizing Elder Law, in Different Approaches to Elder Law: Introduction to the Norma Elder Law Research Environment (Ann Numhauser-Henning, ed) (Norma Elder Law Workshop Lund 19 March 2013) (2013)
  • A Review of Fifty Years of Family Law: Essays for Stephen Cretney, 46 Family Law Quarterly 473 (2013)
  • Sperm, Testosterone, Masculinities, and Fatherhood Nevada L.J. symposium issue on masculinities scholarship, 13 Nevada L.J. 101 (2013)
  • Fatherhood and Equality: Reconfiguring Masculinities, XLV Suffolk Law Review 1049 (2012) (Donahue Lecture)
  • Masculinities and Law: Feminist Legal Theory Meets Masculinities Theory (with Nancy Levit and Ann McGinley) in Masculinities and Law: A Multidimensional Approach (edited by Frank Rudy Cooper and Ann McGinley) (New York University Press, 2012)
  • Introduction, in Justice for Kids: Keeping Kids Out of the Juvenile Justice System (NYU Press 2011)
  • Asking the Man Question: Masculinities Analysis and Feminist Theory, 33 Harvard Journal of Law and Gender 415 (2010) (introduction to symposium issue on masculinities in feminist theory)
  • The “F” Factor: Fineman as Method and Substance, Book Review of Feminist and Queer Theory: Intimate Encounters, Uncomfortable Conversations (Martha Fineman, Jack Jackson and Adam Romero, eds. 2009), 59 Emory Law Journal (2010)
  • (Re)Constructing the Framework of Work and Family, 16.2 Washington and Lee Journal of Civil Rights and Social Justice (2010)
  • Foreword, Florida Journal of Law and Public Policy, special issue on family law (2009)
  • Boys, Masculinities and Juvenile Justice, Korean Law Journal (2009)
  • Masculinities and Feminist Legal Theory, Wisconsin Journal on Law and Gender (2008)
  • Multiple Parents/Multiple Fathers, 9 Journal of Law and Family Studies 231 (2007)
  • Family: Legal and Public Policy Perspectives in The Chicago Companion to the Child (University of Chicago Press 2008)
  • Parentage at Birth: Birthfathers and Social Fatherhood, 14 William and Mary Bill of Rights Journal 909 (2006)
  • Fathers and the Supreme Court: Founding Fathers and Nurturing Fathers, 54 Emory Law Journal 1271 (2005)
  • “Redefining Fatherhood: From Genes and Dollars to Nurture,” in Genetic Ties and the Family: The Impact of Paternity Testing on Parents and Children (Mark A. Rothstein, Thomas H. Murray, Gregory E. Kaebnick, and Mary Anderlik Majumder, eds.) (Johns Hopkins University Press 2005).
  • “Bringing the Margin to the Center: Comprehensive Strategies for Work/Family Policies,” U.Cinn. L. Rev. (2005) (symposium issue, Women’s Work is Never Done)
  • “Race, Gender, and Work/Family Conflict,” for symposium issue on the FMLA, Journal of Law & Policy, Washington University School of Law (2004)
  • "Diversity Matters: Race, Gender and Ethnicity in Legal Education," (with Kenneth Nunn and Jane Pendergast), University of Florida Journal of Law and Public Policy (2004)
  • "A New Vision for Work and Family: Review of Sandra Berns, Women Going Backwards: Law and Change in a Family Unfriendly Society, Griffith Law Review (2003)
  • "Law, Culture, and Family: The Transformative Power of Culture and the Limits of Law," 78 Chicago-Kent L. Rev. 101 (2003) (symposium issue on law and culture)
  • "Single Parent Adoption," in Naomi Cahn and Joan Hollinger, eds., Adoption Reader (New York University Press, 2004)
  • 'From Genes, Marriage and Money to Nurture: Redefining Fatherhood,'15 Cardozo Women’s L.J. 133 (2003)
  • 2001 Annual Survey of Family Law: United States for the Journal of the International Society of Family Law (2002) (Focus on Troxel v Granville)
  • "Gender and Law," essay in Oxford University Press Companion to American Law (2002)
  • Symposium: Unbending Gender: Why Family and Work Conflict and What to Do About It; Panel: Who's Minding the Baby? Remarks. 49 A. U. L. Rev. 987 (2000)
  • Resisting Essentialism and Hierarchy: A Critique of Work/Family Policies for Women Lawyers, 16 Harvard Blackletter L.J. 185 (2000)
  • Women=s, Men=s and Children=s Equalities: Some Reflections and Uncertainties, 6 Southern California Review of Law and Women=s Studies 587 (1997 (symposium issue, Taxing Women: Thoughts on a Gendered Economy)
  • Equality and Families, 1 Yearbook of New Zealand Jurisprudence 81 (1997)
  • Rethinking Fatherhood, 48 Fla. L. Rev. 523 (1996)
  • Stigmatizing Single Parents, 18 Harvard Women's Law Journal 19 (1995)
  • A Feminist Analysis of Adoption. Review of Elizabeth Bartholet, Family Bonds: Adoption and the Politics of Parenting (1993), 107 Harv. L. Rev. 913 (1994)
  • Book Review, Family Law and Gender Bias: Comparative Perspectives (Barbara Stark, ed. 1992), 28 Family Law Quarterly 153 (1994).
  • Family Values and Valuing Family: A Blueprint for Family Leave, 30 Harv. J. on Legis. 335 (1993)
  • Liberty vs. Equality: In Defense of Privileged White Males, Book Review of Richard Epstein, Forbidden Grounds: The Case Against Employment Discrimination Laws (1992), 34 Wm. & Mary L. Rev. 429 (1993)
  • Work and Family: Restructuring the Workplace, 32 Ariz. L. Rev. 1 (1990)
  • Envisioning Work and Family: A Critical Perspective on International Models, 26 Harv. J. on Legislation 311 (1989) (symposium issue on legislative approaches to work-family issues)
  • Work and Family: Gender Paradox and the Limitations of Discrimination Analysis in Restructuring the Workplace, 24 Harv. Civ. Rts.-Civ. Lib. L. Rev. 79 (1989)
  • The Metamorphosis of Comparable Worth, 20 Suffolk Univ. L. Rev. 833 (1986)
  • Maternity Leave: Taking Sex Differences Into Account, 54 Fordham L. Rev. 699 (1986)
  • The Test of Employee Status: Economic Realities and Title VII, 26 Wm. & Mary L. Rev. 75 (1984)