Charles I. Abramson, Ph.D.
Melanie Page, Ph.D.
Welcome to our website describing the contributions of women to psychology!
The purpose of our site is twofold. First, we want to acquaint you with the many and varied contributions women have made to psychology over the centuries. Second, we hope our site will inspire and motivate you to follow a career in psychology.
It is generally acknowledged that the historical role of women and minorities in shaping the field of psychology is grossly neglected in histories of psychology. As Scarborough and Furumoto (1987) note in their classic work Untold Lives: The First Generation of Women Psychologists, there are several reasons for this neglect. These include a reliance on the "Great Man" approach to the writing of history, poor scholarship and, of course, outright prejudice.
Despite the work of Scarborough and Furumoto (1987), the many contributions of women to psychology are, in our view, still overlooked. Consider, for example, the popular book, The History of Psychology, by Morton Hunt (1993). In an index consisting of approximately 483 names, only 29 are women. The contributions of such seminal figures as Margaret Floy Washburn, Christine Ladd Franklin, Mary Whiton Calkins, Maria Montessori, Lillian Moller Gilbreth, Florence Goodenough, Leta Hollingworth, Edna Heidbreder, Charlotte Bühler, and Beth Wellman are ignored entirely.
The failure to recognize the contributions of women in shaping the history of psychology is not confined to books written for the general public. The same neglect is found in texts explicitly developed for a course on the history of psychology. In a recent text, for example, only Christine Ladd-Franklin, Leta Hollingworth, Dorothea Dix, Anna Freud, and Karen Horney are given the type of coverage commonly given to men (Hergenhahn, 2001).
In addition to the "Great Man" approach, prejudice against women, and poor scholarship, there is an alternative explanation for the lack of representation of women psychologists in popular and instructional texts. We believe that there are only few accessible centralized sources available to history writers, teachers, or students wishing to find information about the history of women in psychology.
Our website will be of practical value to scholars and students writing popular histories about psychology and those writing textbooks for history of psychology classes. The website also can be used as a source of ancillary materials, such as overheads, that are applicable to a wide variety of psychology courses including Introductory Psychology, Quantitative Methods, Biopsychology, Comparative Psychology and, of course, History of Psychology.
The women included in our website were selected for their significant contributions to psychology. Significance was determined, in part, by our own experiences, published sources, and recommendations of colleagues. Our selections should be considered as a convenient starting point for a search that has not yet ended. Indeed, the ongoing contributions of women to psychology are such that our search will never end. We invite you to bring to our attention additional names, especially of women in developing countries.
Rather than provide complete biographies of our contributors, we decided to provide thumbnail sketches that provide biographical information and career highlights. Detailed information about each contributor can be found by accessing appropriate links. When no such links are available, we hope that this will stimulate you to create your own biography. By doing so we hope to encourage the development of your writing and research skills.
Many people have contributed to the development of this site. We would especially like to thankDanny Benbassat, Ph.D. for his extensive edits and computer programming skills. We would also like to thank Brooke Brunken, Robbi Coffelt, Jessica Duncan, Lindsey Sherrill, Stephanie Willingham, and Roseanne Yoakum, who devoted many hours of research. Finally, special gratitude to the Society for the Teaching of Psychology for supplying development funds.
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