Joan Williams

Joan C. Williams is Distinguished Professor of Law and director of the Center for WorkLife Law at the University of California, Hastings College of the Law. For the full-length report on which this article is based, "'Opt Out' or Pushed Out?: How the Press Covers Work/Family Conflict," go here.

Recent Articles

The Opt-Out Revolution Revisited

"I was tired of juggling. I was tired of feeling guilty. I was tired of holding the household reins in one hand. So I quit." On the cover of The New York Times Magazine for October 26, 2003, a classy looking white woman with long, straight hair sits serenely with her baby, ignoring the ladder that climbs behind her. "Why Don't More Women Get to the Top?" asks the headline. "They Choose Not to." Inside, Times columnist Lisa Belkin reported on interviews with eight women who graduated from Princeton and a handful of others, three of them with MBAs. All are "elite, successful women who can afford real choice," Belkin acknowledges, yet the Magazine does not evince any hesitation about making generalizations about "women" based on this group's decisions -- to use Belkin's phrase -- to "opt out." Belkin's piece shifted the cultural frame for understanding women's workforce participation. Prior to her article, coverage typically focused on women who had "dropped out" -- left the workforce...