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Melissa Williams - Emory University, Goizueta Business School. Atlanta, GA, US

Melissa Williams

Associate Professor of Organization & Management | Emory University, Goizueta Business School


Expert on social identities (gender, race, culture, stigma) and workplace hierarchies.





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Melissa J. Williams joined the Goizueta faculty in 2011, after completing a postdoctoral fellowship at the Stanford Graduate School of Business. She earned a PhD in psychology from the University of California, Berkeley. Professor Williams studies the intersection between social identities (gender, race, stigma, or national culture) and workplace hierarchies. Her research has been published in major journals (Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Management Science) and covered in the media. She previously served as an Associate Editor at Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes (2021-24) and as Area Coordinator for the Organization & Management area at Goizueta (2020-24). Professor Williams can be reached directly at mjwilliams (at) emory.edu.

Education (2)

University of California, Berkeley: PhD, Social / Personality Psychology 2008

Rice University: BA, Psychology 1995

Areas of Expertise (6)

Gender Wage Gap‎

Women in the Workplace

Diversity & Inclusion

Evidence-Based Management

Social Psychology

Power & Leadership

Publications (18)

Looking the part: Stereotypicality in appearance among White professionals predicts leadership attainment and perceived leadership suitability

Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin

Williams, M. J., Wade, J. B., Nwadei, T., Swaminathan, A., Harrison, K., & Bukstein, S.


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When the boss steps up: Workplace power, task responsibility, and engagement with unpleasant tasks

Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes

Williams, M. J., Lopiano, G., & Heller, D.


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Interdependence and reflected failure: Cultural differences in stigma by association☆

Journal of Experimental Social Psychology

He, T., & Williams, M. J.


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Destigmatization and Its Imbalanced Effects in Labor Markets

Management Science

Negro, G., Williams, M. J., Pontikes, E., & Lopiano, G.


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The face of STEM: Racial phenotypic stereotypicality predicts STEM persistence by—and ability attributions about—students of color.

Journal of Personality and Social Psychology

Williams, M. J., George-Jones, J., & Hebl, M. R.


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Sexual aggression when power is new: Effects of acute high power on chronically low-power individuals

Journal of Personality and Social Psychology

Williams, M. J., Gruenfeld, D. H., & Guillory, L.


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The subtle suspension of backlash: A meta-analysis of penalties for women's implicit and explicit dominance behavior

Psychological Bulletin

Williams, M. J., & Tiedens, L. Z.


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Serving the self from the seat of power: Goals and threats predict leaders’ self-interested behavior

Journal of Management

Williams, M. J.


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When "mom's the boss": Control over domestic decision making reduces women's interest in workplace power

Group Processes and Intergroup Relations

Williams, M. J., & Chen, S.


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Selectively friending: Racial stereotypicality and social rejection

Journal of Experimental Social Psychology

Hebl, M. R., Williams, M. J., Sundermann, J., Kell, H., & Davies, P. G.


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Fundamental(ist) attribution error: Protestants are dispositionally focused

Journal of Personality and Social Psychology

Li, Y. J., Johnson, K. A., Cohen, A. B., Williams, M. J., Knowles, E. D., & Chen, Z.


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The masculinity of money: Automatic stereotypes predict gender differences in estimated salaries

Psychology of Women Quarterly

Williams, M. J., Paluck, E. L., & Spencer-Rodgers, J.


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Cultural differences in expectations of change and tolerance for contradiction: A decade of empirical research

Personality and Social Psychology Review

Spencer-Rodgers, J., Williams, M. J., & Peng, K.


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Biological conceptions of race and the motivation to cross racial boundaries

Journal of Personality and Social Psychology

Williams, M. J., & Eberhardt, J. L.


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Gender clues and cues: Online interactions as windows into lay theories about men and women

Basic and Applied Social Psychology

Williams, M. J., & Mendelsohn, G. A.


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Not yet human: Implicit knowledge, historical dehumanization, and contemporary consequences.

Journal of Personality and Social Psychology

Goff, P. A., Eberhardt, J. L., Williams, M. J., & Jackson, M. C.


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Culture and group perception: Dispositional and stereotypic inferences about novel and national groups

Journal of Personality and Social Psychology

Spencer-Rodgers, J., Williams, M. J., Hamilton, D. L., Peng, K., & Wang, L.


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Warding off the attacker: Self-defense in theory and in practice

Journal of Applied Social Psychology

Williams, M. J., & Hebl, M. R.


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Research Spotlight

In the News (7)

Women’s Guide to Building Wealth (2024)

MarketWatch  online

March 5, 2024

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Study of U.S. football coaches finds the more White you look, the more likely you are to be head coach

PsyPost  online

February 16, 2023

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Stereotypes about STEM ability impact retention of minorities in STEM majors, jobs

Atlanta Business Chronicle  online

March 25, 2019

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When Power Makes Leaders More Sensitive

New York Times  online

May 15, 2017

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Sudden power is a scourge—and not just in politics

Boston Globe  online

Oct. 23, 2016

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How Women Can Be Assertive (and Lovable)

Law.com  online

July 19, 2016

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The Price Women Leaders Pay for Assertiveness—and How to Minimize It

Wall Street Journal  online

May 30, 2016

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Answers (1)

Gender and Pay Gap 

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A recent study finds women in 2022 earned 17% less than men on average earning 82 cents for every dollar a man makes. The wage gap is even larger in women of color. The 2022 numbers come after the Covid-19 pandemic rise in unemployment. The study finds employment rates have not returned to pre-pandemic levels especially among women. The wage gap also differs by job. Health care technicians, physical therapists, bartenders and some teachers had the smallest gender pay gap while real estate brokers, financial advisors and insurance agents had the largest gender pay gap. Goizueta’s Melissa Williams has done extensive research on the gender pay gap. She is available to discuss these findings.