Standard Article

Psychology of Women

  1. Jayne E. Stake

Published Online: 30 JAN 2010

DOI: 10.1002/9780470479216.corpsy0735

Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology

Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology

How to Cite

Stake, J. E. 2010. Psychology of Women. Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology. 1–3.

Author Information

  1. University of Missouri–St. Louis

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 30 JAN 2010


The psychology of women is a subdiscipline of the field of psychology with the primary goal of understanding and improving the lives of girls and women through improved research, methods of practice, and dissemination of knowledge about sex and gender. The psychology of women does not encompass all theory and research about women; instead, it includes only that which is undertaken from the epistemological perspectives and principles of feminism. This area of psychology was spurred by serious limitations in psychological theory and research that date back to the inception of psychology in the late 1890s. During these early years of psychology, male pioneers in the field, such as Francis Galton and William James, held firm opinions of the temperamental and intellectual inferiority of women (Rosenberg, 1982). Along with most of the general public at the time, these early psychologists presumed that gender differences were large in magnitude, inherited, and immutable. To further illustrate misogyny within the field, women were excluded from many educational and professional opportunities in the early decades of psychology. In one striking example, Mary Whiton Calkins was denied a doctorate from Harvard even though she achieved all requirements for the degree, and she went on to have a distinguished research and teaching career.


  • feminist psychology;
  • gender differences;
  • gender attitudes