How to Navigate Successfully through Workplaces Shaped by Subtle Bias

Joan Williams
SWE Advance
61 Minutes
CEU : 0.1
PDH : 1


Gender bias falls into four distinct patterns. 1) Prove-it-again!: women have to provide more evidence of competence to be seen as equally competent; 2) Tightrope: Women have to behave in traditionally masculine ways (direct, commanding, ambitious) to be seen as go-getters—but women are expected to be feminine. Often women find themselves walking a tightrope between being seen as too feminine to be competent or too masculine to be likable. 3) Maternal wall: Motherhood triggers strong negative competence and commitment assumptions. 4) Tug of War: Gender bias fuels conflict among women, for example when women receive the message that there’s room for only one woman at the top. My interviews with 127 women (over 60 of them in STEM) show how these biases play out in everyday workplace interactions—and the strategies successful women have used to navigate workplaces shaped by subtle bias.

  • At the end of this session, women will be able to recognize gender bias in the workplace
  • Attendees will have the tools to implement strategies for navigating successfully through workplaces shaped by subtle bias ones that will not hurt their careers


Joan C. Williams, a prize-winning author and leading expert on work/family issues, is the author of Unbending Gender: Why Family and Work Conflict and What To Do About It , which won the 2000 Gustavus Myers Outstanding Book Award, and Reshaping the Work-Family Debate: Why Men and Class Matter. Called “something of a rock star” in her field by The New York Times Magazine, Williams has been successful in reaching extraordinarily diverse audiences and has been quoted in sources as diverse of The Washington Post, Redbook, The Wall Street Journal, Human Resource Executive, Oprah Magazine and the Yale Law Review. A frequent guest on radio and television, she has taught at Harvard and University of Virginia law schools and is currently Distinguished Professor, Hastings Foundation Chair, and Founding Director of the Center for WorkLife Law at the University of California, Hastings College of the Law.


This course offers 0.10 CEUs / 1.0 PDH. To receive CEU/PDH, the course must be viewed in its entirety in addition to completing the survey.

The Society of Women Engineers (SWE) has been approved as an Authorized Provider by the International Association for Continuing Education and Training (IACET), 1760 Old Meadow Road, Suite 500, McLean, VA 22102; (703) 506-3275. In obtaining this approval, the SWE has demonstrated that it complies with the ANSI/IACET 1-2007 Standard which is recognized internationally as a standard of good practice. As a result of their Authorized Provider membership status, SWE is authorized to offer IACET CEUs for its programs that qualify under the ANSI/IACET 1-2007 Standard.

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This webinar is sponsored by Southern Company. 

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