What Works for Women at Work
Many of the hurdles women face at work can be categorized into four patterns of bias. By seeing these patterns, women can stop feeling like their set-backs are purely personal failings, and start using the strategies outlined by Williams. Drawn from interviews with more than a hundred successful women, the strategies presented in these modules are practical tools for women to succeed at work now.
Use the free discussion guide to reflect on key takeaways from what you've seen or to start the conversation after watching the video with friends or colleagues.
View What Works for Women at Work Resources
For Women Leaders, Likability and Success Hardly Go Hand-in-Hand: In this Harvard Business Review blog post, sociologist Marianne Cooper reviews decades of research explaining the competence/likability trade-off and how women walk a tightrope between between being liked but not respected and respected but not liked.
Motherhood penalty remains a pervasive problem in the workplace: Stanford University professor and Stanford VMware Women’s Leadership Innovation Lab Co-Founder Dr. Shelley Correll's research reveals that mothers on the job market are judged by a harsher standard than fathers, childless men and childless women, leading to a "motherhood penalty" in getting hired and being offered a good salary.
Women, work and the art of gender judo: In this Washington Post opinion piece, UC Hastings College of the Law professor Joan C. Williams introduces the concept of gender judo, demonstrating how women can mix strong messages of “masculinity” with equally strong messages of “femininity" to advance professionally.
What Works for Women at Work: Co-authors UC Hastings College of the Law professor Joan C. Williams and daughter Rachel Dempsey identify, illustrate, and offer practical strategies in their book to overcome four common patterns of gender bias in the workplace: Prove-It-Again, the Tightrope, the Maternal Wall, and Tug of War.
View What Works for Women at Work Biographies
Joan C. Williams
DISTINGUISHED PROFESSOR OF LAW, UC HASTINGS
FOUNDING DIRECTOR OF CENTER FOR WORKLIFE LAW
AUTHOR, WHAT WORKS FOR WOMEN AT WORK
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, Williams was awarded the 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), and the Gustavus Myers Outstanding Book Award for Unbending Gender: Why Family and Work Conflict and What to Do About It (Oxford University Press, 2000). In recognition of her interdisciplinary work, Williams gave the 2008 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 seven books. She has written over seventy law review articles, including one listed in 1996 as one of the most cited law review articles ever written. Her work has been excerpted in casebooks on six different topics.
As Founding Director of WorkLife Law (WLL), Williams has played a leading role in documenting workplace bias against mothers, leadng to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s 2007 Guidance on Caregiver Discrimination. Her article “Beyond the Maternal Wall: Relief for Family Caregivers Who Are Discriminated Against on the Job,” 26 Harvard Women’s Law Review 77 (2003)(co-authored with Nancy Segal), was prominently cited in the landmark case, Back v. Hastings on Hudson Union Free School District, 365 F.3d 107 (2d Cir. 2004). Williams has organized social scientists to document workplace bias against mothers, notably in a 2004 special issue of the Journal of Social Issues titled “The Maternal Wall” (co-edited with Monica Biernat and Faye Crosby), which received the Distinguished Publication Award of the Association for Women in Psychology.
Williams also has played a central role in documenting how work-family conflict affects working-class families, 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). Williams’ current research focuses on how work-family conflict differs at different class locations; on the "culture wars" as class conflict; on how gender bias differs by race; and on the role of gender pressures on men in creating work-family conflict and gender inequality.
AUTHOR, WHAT WORKS FOR WOMEN AT WORK
VOICE & INFLUENCE ONLINE MODULE PRESENTER
Rachel Dempsey earned her bachelor’s degree in Literature from Yale University in 2009 and is currently a student at Yale Law School. She has blogged for Amnesty International and the Huffington Post, and her posts with co-author Joan C. Williams have been published on Psychology Today, New Deal 2.0, the Huffington Post, and MomsRising and excerpted in Time magazine.
View What Works for Women at Work References
Gender-and race-based standards of competence: lower minimum standards but higher ability standards for devalued groups
Biernat, M., & Kobrynowicz, D. (1997). Gender-and race-based standards of competence: lower minimum standards but higher ability standards for devalued groups. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 72(3), 544.
Can angry women get ahead? Gender, status conferral, and workplace emotion expression
Brescoll, V. L., & Uhlmann, E. L. (2008). Can angry women get ahead? Gender, status conferral, and workplace emotion expression. Psychological Science, 19, 268–275.
Warmth and competence as universal dimensions of social perception: The stereotype content model and the BIAS map
Cuddy, A. J., Fiske, S. T., & Glick, P. (2008). Warmth and competence as universal dimensions of social perception: The stereotype content model and the BIAS map. Advances in Experimental Social Psychology, 40, 61-149.
Self-promotion as a risk factor for women: The costs and benefits of counterstereotypical impression management
Rudman, L. A. (1998). Self-promotion as a risk factor for women: The costs and benefits of counterstereotypical impression management. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 74, 629-645.
Normative discrimination and the motherhood penalty
Correll, S. J., & Benard S. (2010). Normative discrimination and the motherhood penalty. Gender & Society, 24(5), 616-646.
Do sexist organizational cultures create the Queen Bee?
Derks, B., Ellemers, N., van Laar, C., & de Groot, K. (2011). Do sexist organizational cultures create the Queen Bee?. British Journal of Social Psychology, 50(3), 519-535.