Women’s workforce participation leveled off in the 1990s, as did men’s household contributions. Only 4% of Fortune 500 CEOs are women and the face of American poverty is still a mother. WorkLife Law seeks to jumpstart the stalled gender revolution by focusing, at any given time, on a few initiatives that hold the promise of producing concrete social or institutional change within a three- to-five year time frame.
WorkLife Law develops new intellectual frameworks.
- New legal theories. Our novel legal theories, adopted by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, created new legal protections for mothers — and for fathers who share the care.
- A fresh approach to women’s leadership. The New Girls’ Network marries the science documenting how implicit bias shapes everyday workplace interactions with the strategies savvy women use to ensure that gender bias does not derail their careers.
- Changing press coverage. We changed the way the mainstream media covers work-family conflict — away from stories about women choosing to “opt out,” to stories about how workplace norms make it impossible for women to “have it all.”
- Integrating diversity and women’s initiatives. Our innovative work on how gender bias differs by race opens the door to integrating diversity and women’s initiatives.
- Adding men to the mix. In a striking departure from the established wisdom, we pointed out that work-family conflict for women won’t change until gender pressures change on men.
WorkLife Law is research-based.
WorkLife Law’s influential Working Group model, which has spread to Stanford and Columbia Business School, creates action-ready research that fuels concrete change.
- Gender bias against mothers. In 2001-2003, we brought together social scientists who documented that bias against mothers –virtually unstudied before then — in fact is the strongest form of gender bias.
- A new approach to implicit bias. We organized hundreds of studies into four easily recognizable patterns of gender bias to show how implicit bias emerges in everyday workplace interactions.
- Documenting the experience of hourly workers. Our groundbreaking 2004-2010 studies documented how work-family conflict affects hourly workers.
- Documenting the flexibility stigma. In 2005-2008, we brought together social scientists who documented that the career detriments typically suffered by employees who use workplace flexibility policies stem from gender bias — raising the specter of legal liability, which gives employers a new incentive to get serious about culture change.
WorkLife Law offers concrete tools.
- Best-practice part-time policy (1999). Our Project for Attorney Retention (PAR) invented the modern law-firm part-time policy, which keeps part-time attorneys on partnership track. PAR’s best practices have spread to law firms through the country.
- Part-time tenure track (2000). Our proposal for a part-time tenure track has been adopted in universities throughout the country.
- New legal theories (2004-2007). Our innovative legal theories founded a new area of law: “family responsibilities discrimination,” (FRD) which gives new legal rights to employees discriminated against due to caregiving responsibilities.
- Model state statute (2005-2012). We have developed a model statute to add caregiver status to state employment discrimination statutes, and have worked with advocates throughout the country to generate interest in passing such a statute, which was passed in California in 2007 but vetoed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.
- Performance evaluation manual (2008). For the ABA Commission on Women, we wrote a performance evaluation manual that integrates best employment practices with the latest research on gender bias.
- Best practices for hourly workers (2011). WorkLife Law’s best-practice model for scheduling hourly workers is inspiring new software solutions for cloud-based scheduling that can improve the economic prospects for poor families — while also decreasing employers’ labor costs.
- Compensation systems that control for bias (2011). In a report that reverberated through the legal profession, WorkLife Law documented the impact of law-firm compensation systems among women and set forth best practices to control for bias.
- Best family friendly practices for universities (2012). We provide a comprehensive list of best practices for retaining women in academia.