Department of Psychology

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Feature Story Banner: Kate Harkness September 2020

Dr. Kate Harkness has collaborated with a team of 59 professors in the field of Psychology to write a comprehensive review on processes that contribute to sustained gender differences in academic psychology

By Queen's Psychology
September 16, 2020

Queen's Psychology's Dr. Kate Harkness has collaborated with a team of 59 professors in the field of Psychology to write a comprehensive review published this week on gender representation, and the structural, interpersonal, and intrapersonal processes that contribute to sustained gender differences, in academic psychology Click here to read the full published review. This team, led by Drs. June Gruber, Jane Mendle, Kristen Lindquist, Toni Schmader, Lee Anna Clark, and Eliza Bliss-Moreau, also provide evidence-based strategies for reducing gender disparities in academic psychology that can serve as a model for other disciplines Click to view infographic (PDF, 201 KB).

“Psychology has made important strides with regards to gender parity in the last few decades. Women now outnumber men in undergraduate and graduate training programs and are as likely to receive Assistant professor positions, grants, and promotion when they apply as are men,” notes Dr. Harkness. However, research by the team found that these positive data points exist alongside remaining disparities. According to their review, women are less likely than men to apply for Assistant Professorships and grants, and are less likely to publish and to have their papers cited. Women remain underrepresented at senior faculty levels, are paid less than men at equivalent levels, and are less eminent in the field and on the world stage.

In addition to noting these discrepancies, the team reviews evidence for the role of structural factors, such as gendered caregiving roles, that put women at a disadvantage professionally. The team found that women with intersectional identities (BIPOC and/or LGBTQIA women) are particularly likely to be disadvantaged because they often are asked to take on roles related to diversity. In addition, notes Dr. Harkness, “we were surprised to find that women still must confront stereotypes about competitiveness, self-promotion, and who ‘counts’ as a brilliant scientist that may even affect their own self-perceptions and behaviour.” Dr. Harkness and the team are hopeful that increased awareness of how far women have come—and how much further there is to go—will stimulate the change necessary to chart a path forward for future women psychologists.

In particular, Dr. Harkness hopes that readers will agree with the journal editor, who remarked: “this review is essential reading for policy makers, university administrators, department chairs, and anyone who wants to pursue a scientific career.”