Levin College of Law

Nancy E. Dowd

David H. Levin Chair in Family Law
University of Florida Distinguished Professor
Professor of Law
Emeritus Director, Center on Children & Families

Mailing Address:
Box #117625 Gainesville, FL 32611

(352) 273-0930


Professor Dowd teaches and researches in multiple areas, including critical theory, children’s rights, social justice, juvenile justice, family law, work/family policy, and nontraditional families. She has taught Constitutional Law, Family Law, Employment Discrimination Law, Contracts, Torts, and various seminars focused on constitutional law, social justice, and family issues. She was the Director of the Center on Children and Families from 2009-2015. Her interdisciplinary scholarship and collaborative work have evolved along several paths. Her work has (1) fostered the interconnection between work and family law and policy, applying an overarching gender analysis of work/family policy; (2) elevated the understanding of single parent families as a distinctive nontraditional family form deserving of support; (3) incorporated masculinities analysis within feminist theory generally, and applied that analysis specifically to fatherhood; (4) comprehensively critiqued and offered reforms of the juvenile justice system; and (5) used critical analysis of the life course of Black boys to develop the concept of developmental equality and propose comprehensive public policy proposals to achieve developmental equality for all children.

Her most recent book, Reimagining Equality: A New Deal for Children of Color (2018), focused on the life course of Black boys and interlocking systems that create a trajectory of failure and developed a model of developmental equality (the right of every child to be supported to their maximum developmental capacity), arguing this is the right of every child. She argues for developmental equality, which would require dismantling structures that create children’s hierarchies and putting in place comprehensive supports, outlining in a comprehensive legislative model called A New Deal for Children.

She is also the editor of two collections on juvenile justice reform, Justice for Kids (2011) and A New Juvenile Justice System (2015).

Her 2010 book on masculinities, The Man Question: Male Privilege and Subordination (2010), explored masculinities theories as a means to expand gender analysis and argued for incorporating other hierarchies that affect gender, particularly race and class. That volume was an outgrowth of her earlier analysis of fatherhood, Redefining Fatherhood (2000). Her earliest book in the area of families, In Defense of Single Parent Families (1997), identified the wrongful stigmatization of single parent families and proposed a new framework of family support.

In addition to these works, Professor Dowd coedited, with Professor Michelle Jacobs, a reader on feminist theory, Feminist Legal Theory: An Anti-Essentialist Reader (2003), and an interdisciplinary reader on children and violence, Handbook: Children, Culture and Violence (Nancy Dowd, Dorothy Singer, and Robin Fretwell Wilson, eds. 2006).

Professor Dowd’s current research is at the intersection of children’s rights, critical race and gender theory, constitutional law, and equality rights. She has partnered with renowned developmental scholar Dr. Margaret Beale Spencer of the University of Chicago on a project called “Radical Brown, a re-reading of Brown v. Board of Education infused with developmental science and critical legal analysis to articulate Brown’s contemporary meaning and mandate.

In Fall 2018 and 2019, Professor Dowd served as Distinguished Guest Professor at Aalborg University, Denmark, and was the 2017 Fulbright-Lund University Distinguished Chair in Public International Law at the Raoul Wallenberg Institute of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law and Lund University, Sweden.


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

Teaching and Scholarship

Constitutional Law, Family Law, Feminist Jurisprudence, Employment Discrimination

Professional Activities

  • 2017 Fulbright-Lund University Distinguished Chair in Public International Law, at the Raoul Wallengberg Institute of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law and Lund University.
  • 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 Robert 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 - 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 And The Law - LAW 6238
  • Discussion of selected legal topics exploring the perspective of women as the subject and object of law. Includes segments focusing on women’s explicit status, or lack of status, in the law, such as legal disabilities of married women and the treatment of domestic violence.
Perspectives in Family Law - 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.
Gender & The Law - 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.
Advanced Topics in Family Law (Seminar) - 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.



  • Reimagining Equality: A New Deal for Children of Color (NYU Press, 2018) [Link]
  • A New Juvenile Justice System: Total Reform for a Broken System (editor) (NYU Press, 2015) [Link]
  • Justice for Kids: Keeping Kids Out of the Juvenile Justice System (editor and author of introduction) (NYU Press, 2011) [Link]
  • 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) [Link]

Articles and Book Chapters

  • Children’s Equality Rights: Every Child’s Right to Develop to Their Full Capacity, 41 Cardozo Law Review 1367 (2020) [SSRN]
  • Expanding the Framework of Family Issues: Bringing Children’s Rights and Children’s Perspectives into Immigration, 7 Oslo Law Review 6 (2020) [SSRN]
  • Children’s Equality: The Centrality of Race, Gender and Class, 47 Fordham Urban Law Journal 231 (special issue centered on Reimagining Equality, initial essay for the issue) (2020) [SSRN]
  • Children’s Equality: Strategizing a New Deal for Children, 47 Fordham Urban Law Journal 379 (special issue centered on Reimagining Equality, response essay for the issue) (2020) [SSRN]
  • Commentary on Oncale v. Sundowner Offshore Services Inc., in Feminist Judgments: Employment Discrimination, Opinions Rewritten (Ann McGill and Nicole Porter, eds) (Cambridge University Press 2020) [Link]
  • Rewritten Opinion, Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl, in Feminist Judgments: Reproductive Justice Rewritten (Feminist Judgments book series) (Kimberly Mutcherson, ed.) (Cambridge University Press 2020) [Link]
  • Radical ACEs: Building Resilience and Triggering Structural Change, (symposium issue on early childhood), 71 (1) Fla. L. Rev. F. 1 (2019) [SSRN]
  • Early Childhood Matters, (introduction to symposium volume on early childhood) 71 (1) Fla. L. Rev. F. 1 (2019) (with Teresa Drake) [SSRN]
  • Equality, Equity and Dignity, 37 Law and Inequality: A Journal of Theory and Practice 1 (2019) [SSRN]
  • A Time for Bold Visions for Children, 56 Family Court Review 346 (2018) [SSRN]
  • Straight Out of Compton: Developmental Equality and a Critique of the Compton School Litigation, 45 Capital L. Rev. 199 (2017) (Wells Lecture) [SSRN]
  • John Moore Jr: Moore v. City of East Cleveland and Children’s Constitutional Arguments, 85 Fordham L. Rev. 2603 (2017) [SSRN]
  • Bridging the Work/Family Divide: Implications of a Broader Sex Discrimination Analysis for Men’s Work/Family Issues, 67 Fla. L. Rev. Forum 122 (2016) [SSRN]
  • Black Boys Matter: Developmental Equality, 45 Hofstra L. Rev. 47 (2016) [SSRN]
  • 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) [SSRN]
  • 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 Ind. J.L. & Soc. Equality 36 (2013) (Symposium issue on social equality: looking forward and looking back) [SSRN]
  • What Men? The Essentialist Error of The End of Men, 93 B.U. L. Rev. 1203 [SSRN]
  • 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 Fam. L.Q. 473 (2013)
  • Sperm, Testosterone, Masculinities, and Fatherhood (Nevada L.J. symposium issue on masculinities scholarship), 13 Nev. L.J. 101 (2013) [SSRN]
  • Fatherhood and Equality: Reconfiguring Masculinities, XLV Suffolk U. L. Rev. 1049 (2012) (Donahue Lecture) [SSRN]
  • 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 Harv. J.L. & Gender 415 (2010) (introduction to symposium issue on masculinities in feminist theory) [SSRN]
  • 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 L.J. (2010) [SSRN]
  • (Re)Constructing the Framework of Work and Family, 16.2 Wash. & Lee J. C.R. & Soc. Just. (2010) [SSRN]
  • Foreword, Fla. J. L. & Pub. Pol’y, special issue on family law (2009)
  • Boys, Masculinities and Juvenile Justice, J. Korean L. (2009) [SSRN]
  • Masculinities and Feminist Legal Theory, 13 Wis. Women’s L.J. (2008) [SSRN]
  • Multiple Parents/Multiple Fathers, 9 J.L. & Fam. Stud. 231 (2007) [SSRN]
  • 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 Wm. & Mary Bill Rts. J. 909 (2006) [SSRN]
  • Fathers and the Supreme Court: Founding Fathers and Nurturing Fathers, 54 Emory L.J.l 1271 (2005) [SSRN]
  • “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. Cin. L. Rev. (2005) (symposium issue, Women’s Work is Never Done)
  • “Race, Gender, and Work/Family Conflict,” for symposium issue on the FMLA, 15 Wash. U. J.L. & Pol’y 219 (2004) [SSRN]
  • Diversity Matters: Race, Gender and Ethnicity in Legal Education, (with Kenneth Nunn and Jane Pendergast), U. Fla. J.L. & Pub. Pol’y (2004) [SSRN]
  • “A New Vision for Work and Family: Review of Sandra Berns, Women Going Backwards: Law and Change in a Family Unfriendly Society, Griffith L. Rev. (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) [SSRN]
  • “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) [SSRN]
  • 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 S.Cal. Rev. L. & Women’s Stud. 587 (1997 (symposium issue, Taxing Women: Thoughts on a Gendered Economy) [SSRN]
  • Equality and Families, 1 Yearbook of New Zealand Juris. 81 (1997)
  • Rethinking Fatherhood, 48 Fla. L. Rev. 523 (1996)
  • Stigmatizing Single Parents, 18 Harv. Women’s L.J. 19 (1995) [SSRN]
  • A Feminist Analysis of Adoption. Review of Elizabeth Bartholet, Family Bonds: Adoption and the Politics of Parenting (1993), 107 Harv. L. Rev. 913 (1994) [SSRN]
  • Book Review, Family Law and Gender Bias: Comparative Perspectives (Barbara Stark, ed. 1992), 28 Fam. L. Quart. 153 (1994). [SSRN]
  • Family Values and Valuing Family: A Blueprint for Family Leave, 30 Harv. J. on Legis. 335 (1993) [SSRN]
  • 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) [SSRN]
  • Work and Family: Restructuring the Workplace, 32 Ariz. L. Rev. 1 (1990) [SSRN]
  • Envisioning Work and Family: A Critical Perspective on International Models, 26 Harv. J. on Legis. 311 (1989) (symposium issue on legislative approaches to work-family issues) [SSRN]
  • Work and Family: Gender Paradox and the Limitations of Discrimination Analysis in Restructuring the Workplace, 24 Harv. C.R.-C.L. L. Rev. 79 (1989) [SSRN]
  • The Metamorphosis of Comparable Worth, 20 Suffolk U. L. Rev. 833 (1986) [SSRN]
  • Maternity Leave: Taking Sex Differences Into Account, 54 Fordham L. Rev. 699 (1986) [SSRN]
  • The Test of Employee Status: Economic Realities and Title VII, 26 Wm. & Mary L. Rev. 75 (1984) [SSRN]