William Bielby

Professor emeritus of sociology


William Bielby

William Bielby (Photo: Jenny Fontaine)

People are often unaware of how stereotypes affect their perceptions and behavior, even for individuals whose personal beliefs are relatively free of prejudice, says sociologist William Bielby.

In a business setting, any tendency that a hiring manager has to either intentionally or unintentionally invoke gender or racial stereotypes when making judgments about people can lead to workplace discrimination.

Bielby’s current research is on racial diversity at the top of corporate hierarchies, on how informal social networks facilitate career advancement, and on the factors that shape Americans’ support for or opposition to workplace policies designed to promote diversity and nondiscrimination.

He has served as an expert witness in numerous class action employment discrimination cases. Most notably, his testimony related to gender bias in Wal-Mart Stores v. Dukes was the subject of extensive commentary and debate in law reviews and business media.

Bielby also has expertise in the field of popular music. His presidential address to the American Sociological Association was titled “Rock in a Hard Place: Home-Grown Cultural Production in the Post-Elvis Era.” His nine-piece blues/rock/soul band, The Newports, got its start in the south suburbs of Chicago in 1961, reconvened in 1964, and performs regularly in the greater Chicago area.

Subject areas:

  • Workplace discrimination
  • Organizations
  • Social inequality
  • Popular music
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