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In Honor of Women’s History Month We Recognize Prominent Women in the History of Psychology

Beginning in 1911, Women’s History Month marks a special month on the calendar where women of all positions are celebrated for their social, economic, cultural, and political achievements. Although dominated by a majority of males, psychology is a field where women have taken initiatives and make major contributions from the Myers Briggs Type Indicator test by Katherine Cook Briggs and her daughter Isabel Briggs Myers to impacts on racism and the development of various schools of thought.

 

As parent and child, Katherine Briggs and Isabel Briggs are a duo that changed the field of psychology forever. It all started when Katherine Briggs read Carl Jung’s personality theory. She reconceptualized this theory to address work and social roles, and developed a measure to categorize it. She named this measure the MBTI test, or the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator Test. Developed in 1943, the MBTI has become a popular and widely used measure in the field of psychology, education and work.  The test is widely used to help determine the preference of individuals across four dichotomies for how they think, perceive or experience their work:  Extroverted (E) or Introverted (I), Sensing (S) or Intuitive (N), Feeling (F) or Thinking (T) and Perceiving or Judging.

 

Karen Horney was a female psychologist who was born in 1883 and lived till 1952. Her influence was dominant in the Freudian era, instead of just being one of Freud’s followers she actively opposed and questioned his ideas. One of Sigmund Freud’s beliefs was the presence of an inherent difference between males and females; according to him, women question their sexuality and desires to be males. This idea was not taken by Horney (as were many of his beliefs), and as a result she was classified as a neo-Freudian. Supported by many others who did not agree with Freud, Horney didn’t believe a person’s sex and aggression were core for determining personality. As one of the founders of the feminist psychologist movement, Karen Horney voiced her opinions, and helped create a movement with emphasis on woman’s rights.

 

Inez Beverly Prosser was not only a female psychologist during the 1900s, but she was also the first black female psychologist. Born on December 30, 1897, her success came as a surprise, she was raised with 10 siblings and was educated in segregated classes. Inez Beverly Prosser studied behavioral psychology with an emphasis on the psychological effects of racism. With her research, she found that during this unfair time period, black students were functioning better in segregated schools because of less external judgement from the other students. She was the first African-American female to receive a Ph.D in psychology, an accomplishment that earns acknowledgement and respect from society. She accomplished several things in her lifetime, including, the publishing of her dissertation, The Non-Academic Development of Negro Children in Mixed and Segregated Schools; becoming a teacher and professor, while raising enough money through funds to send five of her siblings to college. However her greatest accomplishment is believed to have been her assistance in the Brown vs Board of Education of 1954, where her voice helped convince people that changing the prejudicial attitudes of white teachers and students will offer a better and more positive experience for black students.

 


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2078 Teron Trace #326 | Phone: 678-205-0838
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