2

I have the impression that many female scientists, especially after they gave birth to a child, start to develop a research interest in the learning, growing, and developmental behaviors of babies. I got this impression because over time I heard about a couple of female university professors and industry scientists doing research about babies. I personally know 0 male scientist whose research interest is in this area.

I'm wondering whether this trend I see around me is real, and thus wondering: are women more represented in the subfield of child development (or developmental psychology) than in the broader field of psychology?

I'm concerned, and intuitively don't like this (possibly imagined) "trend". I think it may encourage some people to think that female scientists just pick up certain research topics and don't want to touch others. I also see this "trend" as a destruction of many years of effort encouraging women in the "hard-core" science and technology.

  • 13
    a couple of personal anecdotes do not a trend make. One counterexample: the famous BABY lab at Cornell is directed by Dr. Goldstein, a gentleman. babylab.psych.cornell.edu – Shion Nov 23 '13 at 3:05
  • 3
    I have reworded the question to focus on data: are women more present in child development research, compared to neighboring fields? It is certainly on topic for the site, and I think it actually is an interesting question. – F'x Nov 23 '13 at 8:37
  • 5
    Child development studies (and Psychology in general) can be just as scientifically rigourous as any other branch of science. – StrongBad Nov 23 '13 at 14:13
18

Males have historically outnumbered their female counterparts in the field of psychology, but this has changed in recent years. According to the American Psychological Association

Psychology, once a man's profession, now attracts mostly women. Data from the 1986 APA report, "The Changing Face of American Psychology," and the National Science Foundation show that the percentage of psychology PhDs awarded to men has fallen from nearly 70 percent in 1975 to less than 30 percent in 2008. (The data do not include PsyD degrees.)

Not only are females over-represented in psychology as a whole, they appear to be even more over-represented in the sub-fields of developmental and child psychology. This article from the APA states

In developmental and child psychology...female PhD recipients outnumber men by more than five to one.

1

Are women overrepresented in the field of child development studies?

No. They have more than 50% representation, yes, but that doesn't equate to overrepresentation in the sense that it should be 50%. Men and women are different. Women are drawn naturally towards certain things that interest them, just as men are.

I think it may encourage some people to think that female scientists just pick up certain research topics and don't want to touch others.

They do, just as men do. Why are you so concerned about what other adults willfully choose to do with their lives?

  • 1
    There is a huge body of evidence that women in academia are not basing their decisions solely on there interests, but that they are in fact being steered away from certain fields both actively and passively. – StrongBad May 21 '14 at 11:53
  • 4
    "No. They have more than 50% representation, yes, but that doesn't equate to overrepresentation in the sense that it should be 50%." - Citation needed – user102 May 21 '14 at 12:09
  • 2
    @StrongBad There's even more (actual, not nonsensical biased perception) evidence (just look at the OP) that women are not only NOT being steered away from those certain fields, but are significantly being steered TOWARDS those fields and yet still women as a whole still reject them, because what a shocker that they are individuals and don't agree with YOUR views on what they should do with their lives. – Jackson May 21 '14 at 13:47
  • 2
    You've chosen a subjective interpretation of "overrepresented", i.e. "more than there should be", but the usual interpretation is objective, i.e. "more than in the general population". In the objective sense, the statistics quoted by J. Zimmerman suggest that the answer is simply "yes". – Nate Eldredge May 22 '14 at 19:04
  • 2
    Yes, but it gives the impression that you have deliberately misinterpreted the question in order to air your opinion on a politically controversial topic. Hence the down votes. – Nate Eldredge May 23 '14 at 13:17

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.