Françoise Gaspard was born in the town of Dreux, in northern France. She earned three degrees: one in history from the Sorbonne (1968), one in political science from the Institut d'Etudes Politiques de Paris, and one in law from the École nationale d'administration. She held various elected offices, including mayor of Dreux, member of the French National Assembly for Eure-et-Loire, and member of the European Parliament. She decided to return to academia, and in 1990 became a senior lecturer at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales in Paris. From 1998-2000, she was a French representative to the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women. In 2000, she was elected a member of the UN's Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). Her research has focused on the history of migration, urban sociology, and social movements, and her books include A Small Town in France (1990). In 2013, she married journalist Claude Servan-Schreiber.