Feminism and psychology: analysis of a half-century of research on women and gender

Am Psychol. 2012 Apr;67(3):211-30. doi: 10.1037/a0027260. Epub 2012 Feb 27.


Starting in the 1960s, feminists argued that the discipline of psychology had neglected the study of women and gender and misrepresented women in its research and theories. Feminists also posed many questions worthy of being addressed by psychological science. This call for research preceded the emergence of a new and influential body of research on gender and women that grew especially rapidly during the period of greatest feminist activism. The descriptions of this research presented in this article derive from searches of the journal articles cataloged by PsycINFO for 1960-2009. These explorations revealed (a) a concentration of studies in basic research areas investigating social behavior and individual dispositions and in many applied areas, (b) differing trajectories of research on prototypical topics, and (c) diverse theoretical orientations that authors have not typically labeled as feminist. The considerable dissemination of this research is evident in its dispersion beyond gender-specialty journals into a wide range of other journals, including psychology's core review and theory journals, as well as in its coverage in introductory psychology textbooks. In this formidable body of research, psychological science has reflected the profound changes in the status of women during the last half-century and addressed numerous questions that these changes have posed. Feminism served to catalyze this research area, which grew beyond the bounds of feminist psychology to incorporate a very large array of theories, methods, and topics.

Publication types

  • Historical Article
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Behavioral Research / history
  • Female
  • Feminism / history*
  • Gender Identity*
  • History, 20th Century
  • History, 21st Century
  • Humans
  • Psychology, Social / history*
  • Women / history
  • Women / psychology*