Gilligan, Carol 1936-
Carol Gilligan, the author of In a Different Voice, is noted for her work in moral reasoning, gender differences, and feminine psychology. She was born in New York City in 1936, the daughter of William Friedman, a successful lawyer, and Mabel Caminez Friedman, a humanitarian. After attending the prestigious Walden School throughout grade school and high school, she studied literature at Swarthmore and graduated magna cum laude. She went on to Radcliff University to earn a master's degree in clinical psychology. At age 28 she earned her PhD in social psychology from Harvard with a dissertation entitled “Responses to Temptation in Analysis of Motives.”
Gilligan taught as an adjunct professor at the University of Chicago while her husband finished medical school. Years later, she returned to Harvard to work with Erik Erikson. She appreciated Erikson's concern that social scientists should contribute to the social issues of the day. However, she was frustrated that he, like so many other researchers of the day, felt that the feminine perspective had to be ignored because of the complications of mixed gender studies. In working with Lawrence Kohlberg, Gilligan recognized the seriousness of ignoring the feminine perspective. She noted
that although Kohlberg's research on moral development and his stage theory of moral development, justice, and rights was impressive, the conclusions could only be applied to the population of privileged boys and men that Kohl-berg's sample represented. After establishing her theory of gender differences in moral reasoning, Gilligan collaborated with Lyn Mikel Brown in developing the Harvard Project on Women's Psychology and Girls' Development and in writing the book Meeting at the Crossroads: Women's Psychology and Girls' Development. Brown has since become recognized as an expert on feminine psychology, particularly aggression in girls.
Gilligan has made two major contributions to the field of educational psychology. First is her discovery of a moral reasoning based on the ethics of care, which complements Kohlberg's morality based on the ethics of justice. Her second contribution is identifying the self-silencing of a young person's authentic voice in surrender to the expectations of society.
The recognition of a morality of care and responsibility grew out of Gilligan's work with Kohlberg. Gilli-gan recognized that the participants in Kohlberg's norming groups were all privileged males. This meant that any viewpoints of female participants would be compared to a collective male perspective. Gilligan noticed that when a woman, in analyzing moral dilemmas, voiced a judgment based on caring for others, her response was rated lower than a man's response based on justice. Gilligan noticed a pattern in the women's responses that was divergent from the pattern of male responses. The males in the study were focused on justice, an adherence to law emphasizing the rights of individuals. The females in the study were focused on compassion, an awareness of relationships emphasizing a responsibility toward others. Although later researchers have not found the gender differences in moral reasoning that Gilligan did, the concept of an ethic of care is well accepted and found in moral reasoning regardless of gender.
Gilligan discovered and validated over many years that girls tend to lose their authentic voice, the true expression of their ideals, during puberty. At age 11, a girl will tell her point of view no matter how controversial, but by age 15, she has learned to suppress it. Gilligan attributes this tendency to the young woman's confrontation with the “patriarchy,” the male-dominant society. In studies with boys, Gilligan has found that boys also suppress their authentic voice but at a younger age.
The major impact of Gilligan's work on psychological research is the inclusion of women as participants in studies generalized to a mixed-gender population. This has led to increased interest in feminine psychology and the inclusion of gender differences as an important part of all psychological studies. Gilligan's work has brought about a revolution in psychological research so complete that it is hard to remember a time when studies with only males as the participants were used to generalize to women's situations.
See also:Moral Development
In a different voice: Psychological theory and women's development. (1982). Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Mapping the moral domain: A contribution of women's thinking to psychological theory and education. (1989). Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Making connections: The relational worlds of adolescent girls at Emma Willard School. (1990). Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Meeting at the crossroads: Women's psychology and girls' development. (1992). Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Between Voice and Silence: Women and Girls, Race and Relationships. (1997). Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Prose, F. (1990, January 7). Confident at 11, confused at 16. New York Times. Retrieved, April 9, 2008, from http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9C0CE2D91030F934A35752C0A966958260&sec=&spon=&pagewanted=1.
Santrock, J. W. (2004). Child development (10th ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill.
Woolfolk, A. (2007). Educational psychology (10th ed.). Boston: Allyn and Bacon.
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