September 25, 1997
Harvard
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  Gilligan a pioneer in gender studies

When Carol Gilligan published In a Different Voice in 1982, she ushered in a new era of thinking about human development and mental health.

Gilligan, the world-renowned psychologist and writer, has been named the first Patricia Albjerg Graham Professor of Gender Studies. In a Different Voice is a landmark study showing how the inclusion of women changes the traditional paradigm of human psychology.

The $2.5 million endowment, a gift of four women closely affiliated with the Graduate School of Education, honors Harvard's first woman dean, and recognizes the importance of gender research to the field of education.

"Carol Gilligan's influential work has truly changed the dynamic of the classroom and helped educators to better teach all students," says Jerome T. Murphy, Dean of the School. "She is precisely the right person to hold this chair and to receive this well-deserved recognition."

"It is truly an honor to be named to this unique professorship," says Gilligan. "I am proud to hold a chair that was created by alumnae and friends of the School, women who share a commitment to gender research and to ensuring that all students' voices are heard."

In a Different Voice explored the significance of how women view human relationships. Up to that point, women were considered less psychologically developed than men -- their sense of self and moral judgments were based more on a psychology of relationships than on a set of rights and rules. Gilligan reframed the discussion of human development and provided a new theoretical model. Today, many psychologists and laypeople agree with her finding that responsiveness in relationships and emotional intelligence are crucial elements of mental health.

Following the publication of In a Different Voice, Gilligan continued her exploration of psychological development in a variety of domains including women's contributions to psychological theory and education; women's and girls' experiences of psychotherapy; and the relational world of girls. Her most recent book, Between Voice and Silence, published in 1996 with Jill McLean Taylor, EdM '84, EdD '89, and Amy Sullivan, EdM '89, EdD '97, studies economically disadvantaged girls and their struggles to be heard and taken seriously. It also addresses the challenges faced by women who set out to join with one another to understand and support girls' development across racial, cultural, and class differences.

Respected for her research methodology as well as her writing, Gilligan is also known for developing the voice-centered (listening to) relational method, a hallmark of the Harvard Project on Women's Psychology and Girls' Development, which she initiated.

Currently, Gilligan is expanding her research. For the past two years, she has codirected, with Barney Brawer, the Harvard Project on Women's Psychology, Boys' Development and the Culture of Manhood. With Brawer, Judy Chu, and Ilina Singh, she has been studying the emotional and developmental changes that boys face in childhood. As boys adapt to the culture of manhood, their ability to be self-reflective, empathic, and compassionate may be injured. Gilligan and her colleagues ask whether the extraordinary growth of the diagnosis of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and increasingly serious violence among young boys may reflect a cultural crisis over the norms and values that have traditionally been associated with masculinity.

A graduate of Swarthmore College (B.A. 1958), Gilligan earned a master's degree from Radcliffe College in 1960 and a Ph.D. in clinical psychology from Harvard in 1964. She began teaching at Harvard with Erik Erikson in 1967, and received tenure as a full professor in 1986. She was appointed Pitt Professor of American History and Institutions at the University of Cambridge in England in 1992 and was awarded the prestigious Grawemeyer Award in Education, which honors achievements in fields not recognized by the Nobel Prizes, such as education and music.

Gilligan and her husband, James Gilligan, are the parents of three adult sons.

 


Copyright 1998 President and Fellows of Harvard College