As Dean of the Graduate Division at UC Berkeley (2000-2007), Mason has had responsibility for nearly 10,000 doctoral and professional graduate students. She has been in a unique position to evaluate the unprecedented admission of women, now nearing equal numbers, into advanced fields over the past thirty years. Her research on the impact of family on the lifetime careers of academic and professional women and men, and vice versa called the Do Babies Matter project has garnered attention from individuals and institutions nationwide. Her data-driven advocacy has fostered major new family friendly initiatives for faculty and graduate students in the 10-campus University of California system, as was recognized in 2006 by an Alfred P. Sloan Foundation achievement award.
Mason’s newest book expands on the ground-breaking Do Babies Matter? research. Mothers on the Fast Track: How the New Generation Can Balance Career and Family addresses the fundamental question faced by high achieving women: "Can women have it all?" Mothers on the Fast Track takes a hard look at the career paths of the first and second generation of women who entered the fast-track professions of academia, law, medicine, business, and the media in large numbers in the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s. With data and interviews, it reveals the impact of motherhood in each of these professions, telling us why and when women leave the fast track, and what allows some to succeed.
Mason is a Professor in the Graduate School of Social Welfare at UC Berkeley. She received a B.A. cum laude from Vassar College, a Ph.D. in American History from the University of Rochester, and a J.D. from the University of San Francisco. She taught American history and practiced law for several years before joining the faculty at Berkeley in 1989, where she has taught children and family law and women’s issues in the law. She is considered a national expert on child custody issues and family law and policy, frequently addressing national and international media, conferences, and workshops on children and family issues.
Among her earlier books are two major works on child custody, From Father’s Property to Children’s Rights: A History of Child Custody in America and The Custody Wars: Why Children are Losing the Legal Battles and What We Can Do About It. She also co-edited (with Arlene Skolnick and Steve Sugarman) All Our Families: New Policies for A New Century. Her first book on work and family conflicts, The Equality Trap, was praised as “the best book ever written on American working mothers” (Caitlin Flanagan, The Atlantic, 2004).
Mary Ann Mason lives in Oakland, California, with her husband, psychologist Paul Ekman. She is the mother of Tom and Eve.