Gender Inequality in Psychology: Bridging The Gap

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It’s no secret that there is a gender gap when it comes to pay and leadership roles. Just ask Claire Foy, who has found herself at the center of a controversy for being underpaid, compared to her male counterpart, on Netflix’s hit series, “The Crown.” Yet, while we may be accustomed to hearing about gender inequality in places like Hollywood or Silicon Valley, it’s a bit more surprising when it’s in our own backyard.

According to a major 2017 report put forth by the American Psychological Association, not much has improved in the way of gender equality in our field since 1995. In fact, women with psychology doctorate degrees earn only 77% of what their male colleagues do, which is actually worse, by 8%, of how we were doing in 1993.

Sadly, it isn’t only our pay scale that isn’t measuring up. Women are also underrepresented in academic areas (i.e. gaining full professorship), leadership roles, and as editors of scholarly journals.

It seems counter intuitive that in a field like psychology, where we are very well aware of the negative impact of inequality, we should have such issues. After all, we know that when one segment of the population is treated unfairly, it affects everyone. For example, when a woman is underpaid, it also affects her children’s quality of life, and if she is married, it puts more pressure on her spouse as well. Whether or not she is in a relationship, or has children, a woman who is not paid fairly will experience added stress, and possibly physical and mental health complications too.

So, what can we, as therapists, do about the state of our profession?

At the organizational level, some members of the APA are calling for changes within the field. These members state that we can make certain parts of the process more conducive to women’s needs. As an example, they state that increasing the number of internships that are located within close proximity to graduate programs, would help women be able to apply to internships without worrying about moving their whole families. We agree that this would be a welcome change, but isn’t it interesting that people rarely bat an eye when a man moves his family for work? It may take time, but it’s this kind of gender stereotyping that we hope to overcome.

In other areas of the APA, members are working to provide leadership training for women, and also to increase the number of women editors for journals.

While these are wonderful ideas, we also may need to do some work at the individual level to work toward gender equality. In this popular video, people on the street are asked to solve the following riddle:

“Father and son are in a horrible car crash that kills the dad. The son is rushed to the hospital. Just as he’s about to go under the knife, the surgeon says, “I can’t operate—that boy is my son!”

How is this possible?

If this gives you even a moment of pause, you may have some unrecognized gender bias. Don’t feel too bad though, many people do. The key is to bring it to consciousness, so it can be released.

Here at Therapy Hive, we strive to provide an environment where equality is enjoyed by all of our members. Contact us to find out more about how we can help you and your practice grow!

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