About the Author

Joan C. Williams is a Distinguished Professor of Law, Hastings Foundation Chair, and Founding Director of the Center for WorkLife Law at the University of California, Hastings College of the Law. Described as having “something approaching rock star status” in her field by the New York Times Magazine, she has played a central role in debates about women’s advancement for the past quarter-century. Williams’s path-breaking work helped create the field of work-family studies and modern workplace flexibility policies.

Williams’s work on social class has influenced scholars, policymakers, and the press. It includes her prize-winning Unbending Gender: Why Family and Work Conflict and What to Do About It (Oxford University Press, 2000) and Reshaping the Work-Family Debate: Why Men and Class Matter (Harvard University Press, 2010) and such widely read reports as “The Three Faces of Work-Family Conflict” (coauthored with Heather Boushey, 2010). Williams has played a central role in documenting how work-family conflict affects working-class families through such reports as “One Sick Child Away from Being Fired” (2006) and “Improving Work-Life Fit in Hourly Jobs” (2011). Her Harvard Business Review article, “What So Many People Don’t Get About the U.S. Working Class,” quickly became the most-read article in HBR’s 90-plus-year history. In addition, Williams uses the findings of social science to create stable schedules for hourly workers, and interrupt implicit bias, at major U.S. companies (see www.biasinterrupters.org and worklifelaw.org/stableschedules.org).

Williams has authored more than ninety academic articles and nine books, including her 2014 book What Works for Women at Work: Four Patterns Working Women Need to Know (New York University Press), coauthored with Rachel Dempsey and featured on LeanIn.org. She is one of the ten most-cited scholars in her field. Her work has been covered in publications from Oprah Magazine to The Atlantic. Awards include the Families and Work Institute’s Work Life Legacy Award (2014), the American Bar Foundation’s Outstanding Scholar Award (2012), the ABA’s Margaret Brent Award for Women Lawyers of Achievement (2006), and the Distinguished Publication Award of the Association for Women in Psychology (2004; with Monica Biernat and Faye Crosby). In 2008, she gave the Massey Lectures in the History of American Civilization at Harvard.

Williams obtained a B.A. in History from Yale University, a Master’s in City Planning from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. She resides in San Francisco, California, with her husband James X. Dempsey. She enjoys hiking and spending time with her children, Rachel Dempsey and Nick Williams.

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