Trailblazing Women Psychologists

Trailblazing Women Psychologists
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The importance of psychology was reinforced for me during a recent family tragedy. Thus, I have been musing about the many contributions of women psychologists to our culture and society. Let’s discover some of these trailblazing women psychologists. Match the woman with her accomplishment:

____ 1. The first lady of engineering, she pioneered the field of organizational psychology.

____ 2. The developer of Family System Therapy and a key figure in the development of family therapy.

____ 3. Referred to as the woman who invented management.

____ 4. A woman known on television worldwide as a sex therapist.

____ 5. The founder of feminist psychology.

A. Mary Parker Follett

B. Lillian Moller Gilbreth

C. Karen Horney

D. Virginia Satir

E. Ruth Westheimer

Sometimes referred to as the “woman who invented management” Mary Parker Follett introduced human psychology and human relations into industrial management. Warren Bennis, management theorist, has said “Just about everything written today about leadership and organizations comes from Mary Parker Follett’s writings and lectures.” An 1898 graduate of Radcliffe, Follett began a career as a social worker and teacher. She would later become a writer and lecturer in the business world. Stressing the interactions of management and workers, she is also considered the “mother of conflict resolution.” Peter Drucker called her the “prophet of management” and his “guru.”

An early psychology Ph.D. (1915), Lillian Moller Gilbreth is most famously known as the mother of twelve children profiled in the books and movies Cheaper by the Dozen and Belles on Their Toes. These books, written by two of the twelve children, document Lillian’s and Frank’s industrial engineering experiments with their brood. Lillian and Frank are two of the founders of the field of industrial engineering. In addition, Lillian developed what today we call career interest tests – matching the interests of the person with her/his career pursuits. She pioneered in the field of organizational psychology. The “first lady of engineering” Lillian Moller Gilbreth has been featured on a U.S. postage stamp and has been inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame.

Considered the founder of feminist psychology, Karen Horney challenged several of Sigmund Freud’s theories. Horney completed medical school in her home country of Germany in 1915, studying psychoanalysis, probably in reaction to the depression that she began suffering from as a teenager. After emigrating to the U.S., Horney served as the Associate Director of the Chicago Institute for Psychoanalysis before moving to Brooklyn, New York. After expulsion from the New York Psychoanalytic Institute for her disagreement with Freud’s views, she founded the American Institute for Psychoanalysis and served as publisher of the American Journal of Psychoanalysis. Feminist psychology focuses on ways in which gender imbalances impact the mental health of women. Horney strongly believed that culture and socialization were manifested in these differences and not biology.

Considered a key figure in the development of family therapy and the mother of Family System Therapy, Virginia Satir was concerned with the health and healing of each individual. She worked her way through the Milwaukee State Teachers College (now part of the University of Wisconsin) and spent a few years as a schoolteacher after her 1936 graduation. After entering social work, Satir pursued a master’s degree finishing her thesis in 1948. When she started her private practice, she realized that meeting with the entire family and not just the individual was more effective. From this 1951 realization, her career evolved through institutes, books, and networks.

Psychologist Ruth Westheimer is familiarly known to millions as Dr. Ruth. A renowned sex therapist, Westheimer escaped from Nazi Germany, later studied at the Sorbonne and received her master’s degree in sociology in New York. Her work at Planned Parenthood led her to pursue a doctorate in family and sex counseling at Columbia University. In 1980, after she gave a lecture on the need for sex education programming, she was hired to do a 15-minute radio show, aired after midnight. The success of the radio show led to it being syndicated nationally. She wrote books, appeared on television, and wrote newspaper columns dispensing frank information. She is still active today.

Learn about more she-roes and celebrate amazing women. These trailblazing women psychologists are among the more than 850 women profiled in the book Her Story: A Timeline of the Women Who Changed America. I am proud to tell women’s stories and to write them back into history.

(Answers 1-B, 2-D, 3-A, 4-E, 5-C)

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