Joan C. Williams

Joan C. Williams

Distinguished Professor of Law, 1066 Foundation Chair and Co-Director of the Project for Attorney Retention, University of California Hastings College of Law

Joan C. Williams has played a central role in reshaping the debates over women’s advancement for the past quarter-century. Described as having “something approaching rock star status” by The New York Times, her awards include the Families and Work Institute Work Life Legacy Award (2014), Hastings Visionary Award (2013), American Bar Foundation’s Outstanding Scholar Award (2012), the Elizabeth Hurlock Beckman Award (2012), the ABA’s Margaret Brent Award for Women Lawyers of Achievement (2006), the Distinguished Publication Award of the Association for Women in Psychology (2003) and the Gustavus Myers Outstanding Book Award (2000). In 2008, Williams gave the Massey Lectures in American Civilization at Harvard University, delivered in prior years by (among others) Eudora Welty, Gore Vidal and Toni Morrison.

Williams, who is Distinguished Professor of Law and Hastings Foundation Chair at University of California, Hastings College of the Law, has authored or co-authored eight books, most recently What Works for Women at Work: Four Patterns Working Women Need to Know (co-written with her daughter, Rachel Dempsey). She is the author of 99 academic articles and book chapters, including “Deconstructing Gender,” listed as one of the most cited law review articles ever written (1996). She lectures widely and has appeared in outlets as diverse as the Harvard Business Review, O Magazine, Human Resource Executive, Jezebel, and the Yale Law Journal.

Williams’s path-breaking work helped create modern workplace flexibility policies and the field of work-family studies. Her approach to implicit gender bias has influenced the way organizations do bias training and design performance evaluations and their compensation systems.

As Founding Director of WorkLife Law (WLL), Williams has played a leading role in documenting “maternal wall” bias against mothers, leading to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s 2007 Guidance on Caregiver Discrimination. Her article “Beyond the Maternal Wall” was prominently cited in the landmark 2004 case, Back v. Hastings on Hudson.

Williams also has played a central role in documenting work-family conflict among hourly workers, through reports such as “One Sick Child Away From Being Fired” (2006), “Three Faces of Work-Family Conflict” (2010) (co-authored by Heather Boushey of the Center for American Progress), and “Improving Work-Life Fit in Hourly Jobs” (2011).

You can also follow her work on Twitter @JoanCWilliams and her Huffington Post blog.