This "What Works for Women at Work" video series by University of California professor Joan C. Williams helps you spot the four patterns of gender bias that shape today's workplaces. It also offers proven strategies successful women use to navigate subtle bias at work.
This video will explain how each of these gender biases plays out, and provide concrete, actionable strategies you can do today to successfully avoid and navigate these biaes. After you’ve watched this introduction, explore our additional lectures on each of the four forms of gender bias.
By Joan C. Williams, Distinguished professor of law at the University of California, Hastings College of Law and co-author of "What Works for Women at Work: Four Patterns Working Women Need to Know"
My name is Joan Williams. I’m a professor, a lawyer, a mom. What I wanna talk to you about is my new research, which I did with my daughter, Rachel Dempsey, on what works for women at work.
So you may be asking, Why do I need to know about gender bias? Well, at the current rate of change, it would take over 250 years to have the same numbers of male and female CEOs in the Fortune 500. The same is true in most other fields. Women leveled off in the mid-1990s, and they haven’t really risen a lot since. There are hundreds and hundreds of studies of gender bias, but the problem is that’s not helpful to you.
So what I did is I boiled them down into four patterns. I interviewed 127 women, extremely savvy women, described the four patterns and found that the studies described exactly the types of gender bias that women report at work.
One is that women often have to prove themselves over and over and over again. Second is the tightrope. They have to walk a tightrope between being seen as too feminine, and so not really taken seriously, or as too masculine and therefore not likeable. The third pattern, The Maternal Wall, is gender bias triggered by motherhood. Once you become a mother, there are very strong negative competence and commitment assumptions, and interestingly enough, this is often a pattern that affects even women without children and women who don’t want children. The final pattern, Tug of War, is when gender bias that reflects all of those three other patterns plays out and creates conflict among women.
I also asked them, What strategies have worked for you or have you seen work for other women? And I boiled those strategies down, put them together, to make a very concrete package that will help you avoid a lot of the kinds of gender bias and help you navigate successfully through the rest of it. Each of these videos will introduce you to one of the patterns of gender bias, and then the discussion guides, they’ll help you practice it. My goal is for each one of you to have very concrete, actionable strategies you can begin to do tomorrow. I hope you find it useful.