• Misha Weiner

Women in Psychology

When thinking of famous psychologists, many names come to mind - B.F. Skinner, Sigmund Freud, and John B. Watson to name a few. Although they contributed to different aspects of psychology, they all share one thing in common: they are all men. This is unfortunate when it is estimated that in the early 1900s, nearly 12% of psychologists were women. Although they faced much discrimination, their pioneering work has helped to shape our current understanding of psychology. Their names should not be forgotten, so read on to learn about some of these influential women.

Anna Freud - The daughter of renowned psychologist, Sigmund Freud, she not only expanded on her father’s principles, but she also developed the field of child psychotherapy and mental health. She introduced the concept of defense mechanisms in children.

Mary Whiton Calkins - Despite being denied a degree from Harvard due to her gender, Calkins went on to become the first female president of the American Psychological Association (APA). She became known for her work in the area of “self-psychology,” developed the paired association technique, and wrote over 100 professional papers.

Inez Beverly Prosser - A teacher and school administrator, Prosser is regarded as the first African American female to receive a Ph.D. in the field of psychology. She was instrumental in assisting many black students in obtaining funds for college and graduate studies. She inspired a new generation of black psychologists.

Eleanor Maccoby - The first woman to chair the psychology department at Stanford University and to deliver a lecture in a pantsuit, Maccoby received many awards for her work. Her groundbreaking ideas about the psychology of sex led to our current understanding of socialization, biological sex differences, and gender roles.

Mamie Phipps Clark - Despite facing prejudice due to her gender and race, Clark was the first black woman to receive a degree from Columbia University. She contributed many influential ideas to psychology such as the Clark Doll Test and even played a role in Brown vs. Board of Education. Her work in racial identity and self-esteem has helped shape our current understanding of self-concept among minorities.

Margaret Floy Washburn - Washburn was the first woman to receive a Ph.D. in psychology. She researched the psychology of animals and also created a theory of cognition that suggests physical movement can influence thought.

And there are so many more… Here are some resources to learn about more women who made incredible contributions to the study of psychology:




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