Janet Giele

Professor Emerita of The Heller School for Social Policy and Management

Janet  Giele's photo


Email: giele1@brandeis.edu
Office: Golding Judaica Center 19
Phone: 781-736-3871
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Janet Giele is Professor Emerita of Sociology, Social Policy, and Women's Studies. Her specialties include family policy, changing roles of women, and aging and the life course.


  • Harvard University
  • Harvard University
  • Earlham College
  • Institut d''Etudes Politiques

Janet Giele

Professor Emerita of The Heller School for Social Policy and Management


Professor Giele came to the Heller school in 1976 and from 1990-1996 was the founding Director of the Family and Children's Policy Center that eventually became the Institute on Children, Youth, and Families. Giele was Acting Dean of the Heller School in 1993-94.

Her ten books and numerous articles illustrate three interlocking trends: the changing roles of men and women, increasing longevity and new life course patterns, and the evolving nature of family life. Before the resurgence of modern feminism in the late1960s, her 1961 doctoral dissertation (published in 1995 as Two Paths to Women's Equality) compared the temperance and suffrage branches of the 19th century women's movement and demonstrated the ways in which changes in women's lives led them to champion reforms not only in the public realm (suffrage) but also in the family (temperance). As a faculty member of Wellesley College in the 1960s, and later as a Bunting fellow and principal consultant to the Ford Foundation Task Force on the Rights and Responsibilities of Women (1972-1976), she examined the connections between changing gender roles, new forms of family life, and the need for more comprehensive social policies to support the four key functions of the family – caregiving, income provision, shelter, and transmission of citizenship – a synthesis that has just been published in her new book Family Policy and the American Safety Net (2012).

Between her earliest work on the women's movement and her most recent book on family policy, Professor Giele has explored the variations in women's roles across countries and within the United States in Women, Roles and Status in Eight Countries (1977), Women and the Future (1978), and Women and Work: the Continuing Struggle Worldwide (1993). In a number of articles and books she has also documented the changing life course patterns of women college graduates over the course of the 20th century and has edited or co-edited books on Women in the Middle Years (1982), Methods of Life Course Research (1998), and The Craft of Life Course Research (2009).

As a result of working with policy experts at the Heller School, Professor Giele has learned how to use sociological knowledge to advance social change. In her own town of Wellesley, Massachusetts, she has taken a leadership role in two civic projects: the first to establish Neighborhood Conservation Districts (NCDs) in order to conserve local architecture and neighborhoods; and the second to establish a virtual retirement community, Wellesley Neighbors (formerly Wellesley at Home), which is part of the larger village movement occurring throughout the country to create caring communities that help seniors to remain in their own homes as long as possible.

Dr. Giele's next project is a guidebook on how to undertake and complete a PhD dissertation. In 2009-2010 she led the dissertation workshop of the Graduate Consortium of Women's Studies based at MIT. Over the course of her Heller career she has served on approximately 50 doctoral dissertation committees.

Awards and Honors

  • Janet Zollinger Giele Annual Distinguished Life Course Award established by Pepperdine University Graduate School of Education and Psychology in 2013 (2013)
  • Heller School Mentoring Award, Brandeis University (2004)
  • Radcliffe Graduate Society Medal, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University (2000 - 2001)
  • Radcliffe Fellow, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University (1999 - 2000)
  • Rockefeller Foundation Resident Fellow, Bellagio Study and Conference Center (1993)
  • German Marshall Fund Research Fellow (1992 - 1993)
  • Outstanding Alumni Award, Earlham College (1990)
  • Gender Roles Grant, Rockefeller Foundation (1987 - 1988)
  • National Institute on Aging, Research Grant on "Life Course Patterns and Well-Being in Educated Women" (1984 - 1987)
  • Lilly Endowment, Research Grant on "College Women's Changing Life Patterns, 1900-1980" (1981 - 1983)
  • Social Science Research Council, Committee on Work and Personality in the Middle Years (1975 - 1978)
  • Ford Foundation Faculty Fellowship for Research on the Role of Women in Society (1974 - 1975)
  • National Science Foundation, Research Grant on "Current Family Policy Development in the U.S." (1974 - 1975)
  • Bunting Fellow, Radcliffe Institute (1970 - 1972)
  • Phi Beta Kappa, Honorary Member, Iota of Massachusetts (Radcliffe) (1962)
  • National Woodrow Wilson Fellow (1956 - 1957)


  • Giele, Janet Z. Family Policy and the American Safety Net. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, 2013.
  • Elder, G. H., Jr. and J. Z. Giele (Eds.). The Craft of Life Course Research. New York: Guilford Press, 2009.
  • 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.
  • Giele, Janet Zollinger. "The Changing Gender Contract as Engine of Work-and-Family Policies." Journal of Comparative Policy Analysis 8. 2 (2006): 115-128.
  • 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 Leslie Stebbins. Women and Equality in the Workplace. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-Clio Books, 2003.
  • 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. and G. H. Elder, Jr. (Eds.). Methods of Life Course Research: Qualitative and Quantitative Approaches. Thousand Oaks CA: Sage Publications, 1998.
  • 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. Two Paths to Women's Equality: Temperance, Suffrage, and the Origins of Modern Feminism. New York: Twayne Publishers, Simon & Schuster, 1995.
  • 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.
  • 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 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 Z. (Ed.). Women in the Middle Years: Current Knowledge and Directions for Research and Policy. New York: Wiley, 1982.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Giele, Janet Zollinger. "Centuries of Womanhood: An Evolutionary Perspective on the Feminine Role." Women's Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal 1. (1972): 97-110.