Melissa J. Williams joined the Goizueta faculty in 2011, after completing a postdoctoral fellowship at the Graduate School of Business at Stanford. She earned a PhD in psychology from the University of California, Berkeley. Professor Williams' research focuses on the components of interpersonal interaction that operate outside of conscious awareness, and how they affects decision-making, teamwork, success, and relationships at work and in life. She is particularly interested in what happens when power, dominance, and organizational hierarchy intersect with individuals' social identities, such as gender, race, and culture.
Areas of Expertise (5)
University of California, Berkeley: Ph.D., Social / Personality Psychology 2008
Rice University: B.A., Psychology 1995
Media Appearances (7)
When Power Makes Leaders More Sensitive
New York Times online
Who someone is—their character and cultural background—affects their approach to power. But contextual clues about how power should be used can be surprisingly effective in altering leadership behavior.
Sudden power is a scourge—and not just in politics
Boston Globe online
Beginning with an inquiry into sexual harassment as an abuse of power, exploring the link between the two elements revealed that it may not be absolute power, but newfound power that unleashes manipulative behavior.
How Women Can Be Assertive (and Lovable)
Analyzing more than 70 studies about how people react to assertive behavior, business professors Melissa Williams of Emory University and Larissa Tiedens of Stanford University find that women tend to be punished for the same behaviors that we find perfectly acceptable in men.
The Price Women Leaders Pay for Assertiveness—and How to Minimize It
Wall Street Journal online
Do female leaders get penalized for being “too” assertive?The answer is definitely yes, according to our research. But there are big exceptions to that rule that give women plenty of leeway to take charge.
Is Housework a Career Killer?
The Huffington Post online
The study's co-authors, UC Berkeley psychologist Serena Chen and Emory University assistant professor of business Melissa Williams, conducted a series of experiments that demonstrated ambition wasn't affected when women shared household responsibilities with their spouses, only when they controlled them. While both female and male survey participants agreed having control of household decisions is desirable and advantageous, only women indicated that actually having that control impacted their career ambitions...
Speaking Out About Women And Power
One set of studies, by professors Melissa Williams at Emory University and my colleague Serena Chen at UC Berkeley, found that women who saw themselves as "leaders" at home were on average less ambitious about career advancement, with no comparable effect for men. In other words, power inside the home seemed to compensate for power outside the home, but only for women...
Working Moms Study: Household Managers Found To Have Less Ambition At Work
The Huffington Post online
"As a result, women may make decisions such as not going after a high-status promotion at work, or not seeking to work full time, without realizing why," said Melissa Williams, an assistant professor of business at Emory University and lead author of the study...