Janet Zollinger Giele

Janet Zollinger GieleProfessor Emerita of Sociology, Social Policy, and Women's Studies

Janet Z. Giele joined the Heller School for Social Policy and Management in 1976 and was the founding director of the Family and Children's Policy Center from 1990 to 1996. The center was the forerunner of the Institute on Children, Youth, and Families at the Heller School. She was acting dean of the Heller School in 1993-94.

Giele has three interlocking interests — women's changing roles, aging and life course, and family policy. Well ahead of the resurgence of feminism in the 1960s and 1970s, her 1961 doctoral dissertation (later published as "Two Paths to Women's Equality") compared the temperance and suffrage branches of the 19th century women's movement. As a faculty member at Wellesley College in the 1960s, and later as a Bunting fellow and Principal Consultant to the Ford Foundation's Task Force on the Rights and Responsibilities of Women (1972-1976), she began to see clearly the connections between changing gender roles, changes in the life course, and the need for more progressive family policies. These interests resulted first in comparative research on women's lives in different historical eras and different countries: "Women: Roles and Status in Eight Countries" (1977), "Women and the Future" (1978), and "Women and Work: the Continuing Struggle Worldwide" (1993).

Her work on aging and the life course was stimulated by membership on the Social Science Research Council's Committee on Work and Personality in the Middle Years. She edited "Women in the Middle Years" (1982) and began comparative research on the changing life patterns of college women at midlife. Her more recent work has focused on methodological matters in "Methods of Life Course Research" (1998) and "The Craft of Life Course Research" (2009).

Giele is currently working on a textbook, "American Family Policy and the Public Interest," which contends that all major social policy is implicitly also family policy. Social policy is being transformed by changes in the modern family as well as the roles of women. In more than 30 years at the Heller School, Giele has found it an ideal place to combine sociological research with commitment to social change. In her own town of Wellesley, she has taken a leadership role in two civic projects — to establish Neighborhood Conservation Districts (to conserve local architecture and neighborhoods) and to establish a virtual retirement community, Wellesley at Home, (modeled on Beacon Hill Village) that will help older people to remain in their homes and maintain control over their lives.

Once her family policy book is complete, her next project is an advice book on how to undertake and complete a doctoral dissertation. In 2009-2010, she will lead the Dissertation Workshop of the Graduate Consortium of Women's Studies based at M.I.T. Over the course of her Heller career, she has directed more than 30 doctoral dissertations and served on more than 50 doctoral committees.


Selected Publications

The Craft of Life Course Research book coverElder, G. H., Jr. and J. Z. Giele (Eds.). "The Craft of Life Course Research." New York: Guilford Press, 2009.

Giele, Janet Z. and Elke Holst (Eds.). "Changing Life Patterns in Western Industrial Societies." Vol. 8 of Advances in Life Course Research. Amsterdam: Elsevier Science, 2004.

Giele, Janet Z. and G. H. Elder, Jr. (Eds.). "Methods of Life Course Research: Qualitative and Quantitative Approaches." Thousand Oaks CA: Sage Publications, 1998.

Giele, Janet Z. "Two Paths to Women's Equality: Temperance, Suffrage, and the Origins of Modern Feminism." New York: Twayne Publishers, Simon & Schuster, 1995.

Giele, Janet Z. and Leslie Stebbins. Women and Equality in the Workplace. Oxford: ABC-CLIO, 2003.

Kahne, H. and J. Z. Giele (Eds.). Women's Work and Women's Lives: The Continuing Struggle Worldwide. Boulder, Colo.: Westview Press, 1992.

Giele, Janet Z. (Ed.). Women in the Middle Years: Current Knowledge and Directions for Research and Policy. New York: Wiley, 1982.

Giele, Janet Z. Women and The Future: Changing Sex Roles in Modern America. New York: Free Press, 1978.

Giele, Janet Z. and A. C. Smock (Eds.). Women: Roles and Status in Eight Countries. New York: Wiley, 1977.

Selected Articles

Giele, Janet Zollinger. "Homemaker or Career Woman: Life Course Factors and Racial Influences among Middle Class Americans." Journal of Comparative Family Studies 39. 3 (2008): 392-411. (PDF)

Giele, Janet Zollinger. "The Changing Gender Contract as Engine of Work-and-Family Policies." Journal of Comparative Policy Analysis 8. 2 (2006): 115-128. (PDF)

Giele, Janet Zollinger. "Life Course Studies and the Theory of Action." Advances in Life-course Research: New Frontiers in Socialization. vol. 7 Ed. R. A. Settersten and T. J. Owens. Elsevier Science, 2002. 65-88.

Giele, Janet Z. "Decline of the Family: Conservative, Liberal, and Feminist Views." Marriage in America. Ed. D. Popenoe, J.B. Elshtain, and D. Blankenhorn. Totowa, N.J.: Rowman and Littlefield, 1996. 89-115.

Giele, Janet Z. "Woman's Role Change and Adaptation, 1920-1990." Women's Lives through Time: Educated American Women of the Twentieth Century. Ed. K. Hulbert and D. Schuster. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1993. 32-60.

Giele, Janet Zollinger and Mary Gilfus. "Race and College Differences in Life Patterns of Educated Women." Women and Educational Change. Ed. J. Antler and S. Biklen. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1990. 179-197.

Giele, Janet Zollinger. "Gender and Sex Roles." Handbook of Sociology. Ed. N. J. Smelser. Beverly Hills, Calif.: Sage Publications, 1988. 291-323.

Giele, Janet Zollinger. "Adulthood as Transcendence of Age and Sex." Themes of Work and Love in Adulthood. Ed. N. J. Smelser and E. H. Erikson. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1980. 151-173.

Giele, Janet Zollinger. "Social Policy and the Family." Annual Review of Sociology 5. (1979): 275-302. (PDF)

Giele, Janet Zollinger. "Centuries of Womanhood: An Evolutionary Perspective on the Feminine Role." Women's Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal 1. (1972): 97-110.