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Joan Williams

Distinguished Professor of Law, UC Hastings Foundation Chair, Director of the Center for WorkLife Law

Meeting of February 15, 2012 - Unlawful Discrimination Against Pregnant Workers and Workers with Caregiving Responsibilities

Joan C. Williams has played a central role in reshaping the debates over women's advancement for the quarter century. Called "something of a rock star" by The New York Times, Williams was awarded both the American Bar Association (ABA) Foundation's Distinguished Scholar Award (2011) and the ABA's Margaret Brent Award for Women Lawyers of Achievement (2006). 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 1066 Foundation Chair at University of California, Hastings College of the Law, has authored or co-authored six 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.

Williams' work on second-generation gender issues was recognized when she won the Distinguished Publication Award of the Association for Women in Psychology in 2004. Her work on women's advancement has also been recognized by the award of two National Science Foundation (NSF) grants totaling nearly $1 million. The trainings and best practices Williams has produced with NSF support have been disseminated throughout the country to help universities advance and retain women in science, technology, math and engineering.

Williams also has played a central role in the legal profession. She co-founded the Project for Attorney Retention (PAR), a national membership organization that develops science-based best practices to help legal employers advance and retain women. Through PAR, she developed the now widely-accepted best-practice work-life policies in use in law firms and legal departments throughout the country. She co-wrote the American Bar Association Commission on Women's Fair Measure: Toward Effective Attorney Evaluations (2008), which details a performance evaluation system that controls for implicit bias. She also co-wrote the widely influential joint PAR-MCCA report, The Impact of Law Firm Compensation Systems on Women (2010), which details best practices to eliminate the effect of implicit bias on law-firm compensation systems.