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Joan Williams
Joan C. Williams has played a central role in reshaping the debates over gender, class, and work-family issues for the quarter century. The culmination of this work is Reshaping the Work-Family Debate: Why Men and Class Matter (Harvard, 2010). Williams’ prize-winning book Unbending Gender: Why Family and Work Conflict and What To Do About It (Oxford, 2000), and reports such as The Three Faces of Work-Family Conflict (co-authored with Heather Boushey); Opt Out or Pushed Out: How the Press Covers Work-Family Conflict, and One Sick Child Away from Being Fired: When Opting Out is not an Option have influenced policymakers, the press, and activists. Williams, who is Distinguished Professor of Law and 1066 Foundation Chair at University of California, Hastings College of the Law, has authored or co-authored six books and over ninety academic articles and chapters, including one listed in 1996 as one of the most cited law review articles ever written. As Founding Director of the Center for WorkLife Law, Williams has played a central role in documenting workplace discrimination against adults with family responsibilities. WorkLife Law,, works with employers, employees, employment lawyers, unions and public policymakers to eliminate discrimination against caregivers, to develop best-practice workplace flexibility policies, and to facilitate adoption of public policies to reconcile work and family.

Williams also is the co-founder of the Project for Attorney Retention, now the PAR Research Institute, which has played a leadership role in helping the legal profession advance and retain women, and offer work-life balance to men as well as women.

Entries by Joan Williams

Netflix and the Flexibility Stigma

(0) Comments | Posted August 24, 2015 | 12:00 AM

When the first reporter called me up with the news that Netflix had announced a year's parental leave, I was thrilled. Researchers generally conclude that that's close to the ideal amount of maternity leave (40 weeks). The twelve weeks provided by the Family and Medical Leave Act is...

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Don't Leave When You Leave

(0) Comments | Posted July 29, 2015 | 1:52 PM

Another great article by Claire Cain Miller documents that younger professional women are more likely than their elders to plan on taking a career break when they have kids. For them, Sheryl Sandberg's famous advice -- Don't Leave Before You Leave -- can now be supplemented with new...

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My Doctor Got Me Fired -- And She Was Only Trying to Help

(6) Comments | Posted July 10, 2015 | 4:34 PM

Co-authored with Liz Morris

Yesterday The New York Times drew much needed attention to an unintentional misstep doctors and other prenatal care professionals may make that can result in their pregnant patients being forced out on leave when they are able to continue working, or even losing their jobs.

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Escaping the Office Housework with Being a "Prima Donna"

(0) Comments | Posted February 9, 2015 | 1:06 PM

So delighted that Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant explored a key problem women face at work: the office housework. I'll just add a few words to flesh out the issue.

What's office housework?
There are two kinds: literal housework, and work that's important--but undervalued.

Planning parties and picking...

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The New Sexy: Millennial Egalitarian Men

(3) Comments | Posted November 7, 2013 | 10:06 AM

A recent article in Slate (based on an article in the Guardian) reports that many young Japanese have lost interest in sex. The Japan Family Planning Association found that 45 percent of women aged 16-24, and 25 percent of the men, "were not interested in or despised...

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The New 'Slacker' Millennial Guy

(15) Comments | Posted October 17, 2013 | 8:11 PM

In the past, men demonstrated their manliness at work by mooning the trading floor (to quote one conversation I had recently) or pounding their chests à la Alpha-Ape (to quote someone I interviewed a few years back). "Come back with your shield or on it," a partner used to joke...

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Why Are There So Few Women in Science, Continued

(2) Comments | Posted October 7, 2013 | 2:44 PM

Kudos to The New York Times for commissioning an article on why there are so few women in science. Author Eileen Pollack suggests two reasons. Citing her own experience as an undergraduate at Yale, she argues that women doubt themselves, and need to be encouraged more to...

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Planning a Career Break? Make Sure It's a Pause, Not a Dent

(1) Comments | Posted August 19, 2013 | 5:34 PM

A decade ago, Lisa Belkin wrote "The Opt Out Revolution," a New York Times Magazine piece that became instantly famous. It profiled women who had chosen to leave high-profile careers to stay home full-time, arguing that they had opted out because (to quote one) "women's brains light up...

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What You May Not Expect When You're Expecting

(0) Comments | Posted August 14, 2013 | 11:35 AM

So you or your partner is pregnant. There are plenty of important decisions to consider: what will be the little one's name? Will you share the name with friends and family or keep it a secret? What about gender? Do you want to know? Do you want others to know?...

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Happy Birthday, ADA!

(2) Comments | Posted July 23, 2013 | 5:26 PM

Expectant mothers risk losing their jobs, their babies or both when employers deny them pregnancy accommodations at work -- accommodations as modest as the right to carry a water bottle due to persistent pregnancy-related urinary tract infections or the right to take more frequent bathroom breaks due...

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Pay Gap Deniers

(16) Comments | Posted June 6, 2013 | 3:56 PM

Steve Tobak, a Silicon Valley consultant, reassured his Fox Business audience that "The Gender Pay Gap is a Myth," recycling a 2009 report commissioned by the Bush Department of Labor arguing that women's choices, not discrimination, account for the wage gap between men and women....

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Why Men Work So Many Hours

(147) Comments | Posted May 30, 2013 | 6:02 PM

How many employed American mothers work more than 50 hours a week? Go on, guess. I've been asking lots of people that question lately. Most guess around 50 percent.

The truth is nine percent.

Nine percent of working moms clock more than 50 hours a week during the...

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The Rise of Executive Feminism

(4) Comments | Posted April 17, 2013 | 2:34 PM

In the aftermath of the publication of Sheryl Sandberg's Lean In, two things are becoming clear. One: We are in the midst of a powerful new feminist movement. And two: The backlash has already begun.

Led by high-powered women like Sandberg and Princeton professor Anne-Marie Slaughter, a new wave of...

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Is It Too Cold to 'Lean In'? Women In STEM

(34) Comments | Posted April 12, 2013 | 11:52 AM

It's been a rough couple of weeks for women in STEM.

Most shockingly, Adria Richards, former developer evangelist at SendGrid, was fired after she publicly reported two men (one of whom was also fired) for making lewd jokes in earshot at a PyCon Conference. Richards has since...

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Shame On Those Queen Bees?

(1) Comments | Posted March 27, 2013 | 1:44 PM

Co-written by Katherine Ullman.

An essay this month in The Wall Street Journal recycled a tired trope: "queen bees" in the office are making the lives of other women a living hell.

We've heard this before. Powerful women are just grown up high school "mean...

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MAKERS, A Cautionary Tale: Sandberg, Mayer, Slaughter And Feminism Today

(3) Comments | Posted March 15, 2013 | 4:07 PM

Recently, Katherine watched the three-part PBS series MAKERS in one sitting. (If you haven't seen it yet, we highly recommend and encourage you to watch it online here).

While some argue that the documentary misses the mark on feminism today, Katherine appreciated the...

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Women Don't Negotiate Because They're Not Idiots

(5) Comments | Posted January 31, 2013 | 4:40 PM

If I hear once more that the reason for the wage gap is that women don't negotiate, I may just blow a gasket.

Linda Babcock herself, the author of the studies that gave rise to the "women don't ask" industry, has shown that women don't negotiate for a very simple...

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American Women Deserve the 'Kate Treatment'

(10) Comments | Posted December 5, 2012 | 12:16 PM

In a snarky article, the newspaper of record confirms what we already know: Kate Middleton is pregnant. She's so nauseated that she's in the hospital on an intravenous drip.

She's just lucky she's not an American gal. U.S. employers regularly fire pregnant women when they need modest accommodations...

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Why It's Not 'The End of Men'

(21) Comments | Posted October 31, 2012 | 4:45 PM

Joan once wrote that the way for women to gain equality was to die childless at thirty, based on data that young women without kids earn almost as much as men. Turns out even that won't guarantee pay equality.

A new report released last week by...

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The New Girls' Network: Binders Upon Binders of Stolen Ideas

(6) Comments | Posted October 18, 2012 | 6:03 PM

"Binders full of women." We all know what Mitt Romney meant during this week's presidential debate when he discussed his "effort" to recruit more women during his tenure as Governor of Massachusetts. But what he said spread like wildfire across the Internet and produced some amusing...

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