Simonton: DOI: 10.18536/jge.2017.

Jump to: Journal of Genius and Eminence | Volume 2

Eminent Female Psychologists in Family Context: Historical Trends for 80 Women Born 1847-1950

Dean Keith Simonton
Department of Psychology, University of California, Davis

The representation of women among eminent psychologists has expanded over the past century. The potential correlates of this upward trajectory were investigated in this empirical study of 80 eminent female psychologists born between 1847 and 1950. Based on the past research literature on the role of family and marriage in the emergence of eminent scientists, three sets of variables were defined: (a) sibling relationships (sibling size, birth order, and the configuration of sisters and brothers); (b) parental occupations (mother and father occupational status plus a separate indicator of homemaker mothers; and (c) marriage and children (dummy variables registering the occurrence of these events as well as quantitative measures of the woman’s age at which these life events took place). Data analyses focused on both the statistics across all women and the trends in those statistics across historical time. Besides substantial contrasts with eminent male psychologists, the eminent women displayed several historical changes in variables closely connected with traditional gender roles. Evidence was also found for an increase in a more favorable environment for the development of female scientific talent. The possible causal factors remain to be deciphered, a task that will require finding parallel data for a male comparison group.

Simonton, D. K. (2017). Eminent female psychologists in family context: Historical trends for 80 women born 1847-1950. Journal of Genius and Eminence, 2(1), 15-25. http://dx.doi.org/10.18536/jge.2017.