The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

Meeting of April 17, 2007 - Perspectives on Work/Family Balance and the Federal Equal Employment Opportunity Laws

J.D. and M.A., Harvard Law School and MIT B.A., Yale University

Joan C. Williams, a prize-winning author and expert on work/family issues, is the author of Unbending Gender: Why Family and Work Conflict and What To Do About It (Oxford University Press, 2000), which won the 2000 Gustavus Myers Outstanding Book Award. In 2006, she was awarded the Margaret Brent Women Lawyers of Achievement award, and was invited to give the Massey Lectures at Harvard University in 2008. She has authored or co-authored four books and over fifty law review articles (including one of the most cited ever written). Her work is reprinted in casebooks on six different subjects; she has given over 250 speeches and presentations in North and Latin America to groups as diverse as the National Employment Lawyers’ Association, the Denver Rotary Club, the American Philosophical Society, and the Modern Language Association, and has lectured at virtually every leading U.S. university. Founding Director of WorkLife Law (WLL), she joined the faculty at University of California at Hastings as Distinguished Professor of Law in the fall of 2005 and was appointed 1066 Foundation Chair in 2007. She has played a leading role in documenting workplace bias against mothers. Her “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 Back v. Hastings on Hudson Union Free School District, 2004 U.S. App. Lexis 6684 (2d Cir. April 7, 2004).

She also has played a central role in organizing social scientists to document maternal wall bias, notably in a special issue of the Journal of Social Issues (2004), which she co-edited with Monica Biernat and Faye Crosby. Her “Opt Out or Pushed Out: The Real Story of Women and Work,” critiques how work/family issues are covered in the mainstream press, and was the subject of articles in The Columbia Journalism Review and American Prospect. Her report One Sick Child Away From Being Fired: When “Opting Out” Is Not An Option, grew out of extensive study of union arbitrations involving caregiving issues, and was the subject on an op-ed in the Washington Post. The Center for WorkLife Law employs both plaintiffs’ and defense side employment lawyers to develop trainings for employers, human resource professionals, and defense counsel as well as manuals for plaintiffs’ employment counsel. Through the Project For Attorney Retention,, WorkLife Law works with legal employers to document the business case for workplace flexibility and to gather best practices; PAR’s Solving the Part-Time Puzzle: The Law Firm’s Guide to Balanced Hours, published by NALP, has been used by many legal employers to help upgrade the quality of their part-time programs. For more information visit

This page was last modified on April 17, 2007.

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