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I would now like to introduce Joan C. Williams. Joan 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, she is Hastings Foundation chair and director of the Center for Work-Life Law at University of California-Hastings.
Her eight books include What Works for Women at Work: Four Patterns Working Women Need to Know, media as diverse as Harvard Business Review, O magazine, Forbes, Human Resources Executive, Jezebel, and the Yale Law Journal have covered her work. She gave the 2008 Massey Lectures at Harvard, delivered in prior years by, among others, Eudora Welty, Gore Vidal, Toni Morrison. Follow her on Twitter @JoanCWilliams and her Huffington Post blog. And now I’ll turn it over to you, Joan.
WILLIAMS: Thanks very much. I’m delighted to be here this morning to talk to you about what works for women at work. Part of the research is based on a report that I recently co-authored with Kathy Phillips and Erika Hall, called Double Jeopardy: Gender Bias Against Women in Science.
The other part of the research was for the What Works for Women at Work book, and it, for both studies, what the team did is simply recited the findings of experimental social scientists on gender bias and asked the interviewees, does any of that sound familiar? And if you have encountered gender bias, what strategies have worked for you? The What Works for Women at Work book focuses on the advice. That’s where you get the advice about how to navigate subtle gender bias. The Double Jeopardy study’s focus is on how the experience of gender bias differs by race.
What we found when we did that is the experience of gender bias is extremely common. Other studies have found that 68% of women believe gender bias exists, but when you actually tell people, these are the patterns that are documented gender bias, we found that 96% of our informants reported having encountered one of the distinct patterns of bias. You see in the circles below, though, that the incidence of different patterns really varies depending on which pattern you’re talking about. And so I’ll, first of all, now talk about the first pattern of gender bias, which we call prove it again. Two-thirds of the women we interviewed, and also two-thirds of the over 550 women in science who we surveyed, reported this prove-it-again pattern.
Prove it again stems from the perceived lack of fit, and here you see a couple of child’s drawings of scientists and they are of a certain gender and of a certain race. So if you think about any high-level job, the automatic association tends to be with white men, and so women have to provide more evidence of competence than men in order to be judged equally competent for the simple reason that we just don’t seem to fit.
Here is an example. This is how this plays out in academia. One pattern is that men tend to be judged on their potential, women on their performance. So she is lazy or not tenurable material. He is engaged in research that will take longer to reach the publication world. You notice how he is being judged on his potential. She’s not. She actually has to deliver.
Men’s and women’s successes are coded very differently. This is a pattern called he’s skilled, she’s lucky. Men’s triumphs and successes tend to be attributed to skill, but women’s are often discounted as based on luck or some other outside, unstable circumstance. Men’s and women’s mistakes also tend to be coded very differently. Women’s mistakes tend to be noticed more