Leta Hollingworth was born in Chadron, Nebraska on May 25, 1886. Leta and her two siblings were raised by their grandparents due to the death of their mother after the giving birth to her third daughter. Once Leta reached the age of 12, she and her siblings moved in with their father who had remarried after the death of their mother.
Not long after living with her father, Leta began to study literature and writing at the University of Nebraska where she gained a certificate for teaching and a literature degree. Leta later moved to New York with her husband, Harry Hollingworth who was a graduate student of James McKeen Cattell. After moving to New York with her husband, she was unable to find work as a teacher and became a housewife instead which she quickly learned was not a fulfilling job for her. Luckily, she, along with her husband, was given the opportunity to work on a study for Coca-Cola on the effects psychological effects that caffeine has on individuals.
After working on the study for Coca-Cola with her husband, she earned enough money to return to school. She attended Columbia University where she studied education and sociology. She later received her Master's degree in education. Around this time, she completed a study called “Functional Periodicity.” This study showed that women showed no difference in mental abilities when they are on their period versus when they are off their period. This study also showed that women were just as productive as men when they are on their periods. During this time, women were denied jobs because of this popular belief that women wouldn't be able to perform well when on their period.
With her Master's degree, she got a job at the Clearing House for Mental Defectives where she administered Binet intelligence tests. Not too long after she started this job, she became “New York's first civil service psychologist and filled a post at Bellevue Hospital as chief of the psychological lab.” (Held, 2010). Around this time, she started to publish her findings. Two years after this, Leta went back to Columbia University where she received her PhD in Education and took a job as an instructor for Educational Psychology.
Hollingworth is most known for her studies in psychology of women and her gifted children studies. Her strong will, courage and talent were shown through her studies. Her studies touched on topics that were sensitive and often time went against the social norms. A perfect example of this is her studies that went against the variability hypothesis. The variability hypothesis stated that there was more variability in abilities (mentally and physically) in males than there were in females. In multiple studies Hollingworth challenges this topic.
One of the studies that challenges this idea is the Clearing House study. Hollingworth compared the number of males and the number of females that were in the institution. The results of this study showed there are just as many females as there is males in the mental institution. “Males are just noticed more because of social concerns” (Silverman,1989,91). Men were institutionalized at a younger age because they were not able to support themselves and women were institutionalized later because they were still able to help around the house despite their disabilities.
The beginning of her studies with giftedness “focused on how to nurture giftedness and educate gifted children” (Held, 2010). The first giftedness study started off as understanding the background of gifted individuals and designing a curriculum to benefit them. Near the end of her life she studied children with IQ's over 180. This was Hollingworth's last publication after dying from abdominal cancer on November 27, 1939. It showed that gifted children struggled with adjustment because there of the belief that gifted children were self-sufficient and didn't need much attention.
Leta lived an amazing life filled with major accomplishments. Hollingworth wrote the first comprehensive text on giftedness, one of the first to study children with an IQ over 180, she was one of the only a handful of women listed in Robert Watson's “Eminent Contributors to Psychology”, and was listed in “American Men of Science” 5 years after receiving her PhD.
Lillian Evelyn Gilberth
Lillian Gilberth was born the oldest of nine children in Oakland, California on May 24, 1878. She was home schooled by her parents until the age of nine when she started attending public school. As a kid, she was very intelligent and was interested in poetry and music; however, her was shyness made it hard for her to make friends. Although her father was not a supporter of higher education for women, Lillian convinced her father to allow her these opportunities so long as she managed her duties at home as well. Her mother was ill so she often took on her mother's role.
Lillian got her BA in literature from University of California at Berkeley in 1900. Since she expected she would become a teacher, her course work included foreign language and philosophy as well as psychology. When she graduated “she became the first woman to give a commencement speech at Berkeley” (Held, 2010). Lillian originally wanted to continue her career in education with Brander Matthews at Columbia University; however, women were not accepted in to his lectures. Therefore, Lillian searched for another program which is when she found E.L. Thorndike and she later received her Master's from Berkeley after returning to California due to illness.
After graduating completing some of her PhD requirements, she took a trip to Europe where she met her husband, Frank Gilberth. Due to Frank's job as a construction company owner, they started to study work place efficiency. Lillian changed her major and received a PhD in psychology so she could assist her husband with these studies and his company. Even after moving to Rhode Island and starting a family, Lillian continued her education and received her doctorate from Brown University. Lillian's doctorate dissertation was Psychology of Management which was published in 1914, ten years after she married Frank.
For over 17 seventeen years, Frank and Lillian continued their studies in efficiency, workplace management, and understanding the workers as individuals. Throughout this time, they grew their family to twelve children and wrote many books; however, Lillian was never named on these works because “publishers were concerned about the credibility of the books should it be known that a woman was one of the authors” (Held, 2010). Despite this, Lillian continued her hard work and became a major contributor to industrial management.
After Frank's sudden death in 1924, Lillian was left to parent a family of twelve alone; however, she managed to continue her work throughout this time. This also left the business in limbo because not many people wanted to work with a woman. Her at home workshops picked back up after a while which allowed her time with the children and time to work. Once the at home workshops became successful she could go out and consult with big companies. One of these big companies was Macy's where she studied efficiency of the workplace and provided manager support. Unlike other people in her position, she took on the job as sales clerk to provide the best services and better understand how she can change their work system to be more efficient.
Not only did Lillian do amazing work studying workplace efficiency she is well known for many inventions that people use every day. Since she did work with efficiency, many of them improve efficiency around the house such as the foot pedal trashcan and shelves on the inside of the refrigerator door (including the egg and butter tray). She patented the electric can opener and the water hoses for waste on washing machines. Lillian was also asked to help with marketing for sanitary napkins, Modess by Johnson and Johnson, which became very popular. It was above all its contenders except for Kotex. Her study on this looked at marketing and which design was the best for women. There were over 3,000 questionnaires filled out to get women's preferences so these products could be tailored to those needs/wants.
Lillian was such a wonderful asset to this field that “she was asked by President Hoover to address unemployment and launched the successful “Share the Work” program”, designed the floorplan for efficient kitchens, worked for General Electric to improve household appliances. She was given twenty honorary degrees along with many other awards and honors. She was the first woman to become a member of the Society of Engineers, to receive a Hoover Medal for public service, and the first woman to be put on a postage stamp. Among all of Lillian's accomplishments, she became the first professor at the engineering school at Purdue where she taught until she retired in 1948.
Helen Thompson Woolley
Helen Bradford Thompson Woolley was born in Englewood, Illinois on November 6, 1874. She graduated at the top of her high school class as valedictorian. Her speech “The Advance Toward Individual Freedom by the Aid of Invention” which shows her progressive tone. She believed that scientific knowledge was important in curing society and to the advancement of society. She attended the University of Chicago which was a good match for her views with faculty John Dewey who used psychology to fix issues within the education system. She was offered a fellowship in psychology and began her studies under James R. Angell following her graduation from the University of Chicago.
It was when she started working under Angell that she sparked an interest in differences between sexes. She started research for her dissertation “Psychological Norms in Men and Women” which was later published. In this study 25 men and 25 women were put through a series of tests (testing physical and psychological abilities). There were no major differences found; however, the small differences showed that men had better motor skills and women had better sensory discrimination, memory and association abilities. Helen found that the differences were simply a result of the environment in which you were exposed to. She stated, “The psychological differences of sex seem largely due ... to differences in the social influences brought to bear on the developing individual.” (Thompson, 1903). Her dissertation was one of the first to challenge this widespread belief at the time of sex differences. It brought on a series of mixed reviews. Some of which were recognizing her careful experimentation but failing to recognize the truth and importance behind her work. While other took what she said and could draw connection to other social issues such as race. Helen made a strong statement that remains true to this day, “The truest thing to be said at present is that scientific evidence plays very little part.”
In 1900, she received her PhD. Helen began teaching at Mount Holyoke College for Women in Massachusetts after taking some time to study abroad in Europe. After getting engage to Paul Woolley she moved to Japan which is where Paul's work as chief pathologist for the US government was located. Unfortunately, she was struggling to keep up with current studies in psychology during this time so she returned to the US where she gave birth to her first child. Not too long after, Paul resigned from his job in Japan and took a job in Cincinnati. Helen took a job at the University of Cincinnati where she started working in applied psychology. In 1911, she was becoming the director of the Bureau for the Investigation of Working Children where her focus was on the effects of child labor. During this time, Helen's studies “set the precedent for the use of psychological testing in vocational and educational settings” (Rodkey, 2010).
Paul left to take a job offer in California where he was later diagnosed with tuberculosis. After filing for a divorce, Paul died from his illness. Meanwhile, Helen accepted a job at Teachers College in New York where she studied children and parent education. Unfortunately, due to stress, commuting, death of her best friend and the divorce of her husband, she began to have health issues of her own. She had a hysterectomy and an appendectomy after doctors found a tumor. When she returned to work, she had a mental breakdown and spent time off recovering. After this she was asked to resign and she never worked again. She had to rely on her daughter and son-in-law for help. Helen Bradford Woolley Thompson died on December 24, 1947.
Although her later life and career had many hardships, she still had many accomplishments and greatly contributed to psychology. She became the first woman president of the National Vocational Guidance Association, assistant director of the Merrill-Palmer School, director of the Child Welfare Institute and was one of the first women to earn a PhD in psychology.
Mary Whiton Calkins
Mary Whiton Calkins was born in Hartford, Connecticut on March 30, 1863. She was the oldest of five children and grew up in Buffalo, New York until she was eleven when they moved to Massachusetts. It was said that Calkins's thinking was shaped by the death of her younger sister, Maud, when she was attending Smith College. She did not return to college until the following school year. The spring she returned to school, she graduated with a double major in Classic and Philosophy.
In 1886, she was traveling through Europe when she took an opportunity to travel to Italy and Greece where she studied the modern Greeks and the classics. When she returned to the US, she had a meeting with Wellesley College which is a women's college in Wellesley Massachusetts. Following this meeting she was given a position as a Greek instructor. Not too long after she took this position, the college wanted to offer a psychology course. Calkins was chosen to teach this course so long as she completes the necessary training. She chose to take her graduate courses at Harvard University. Despite the opportunities, she had to study in Germany, University of Michigan with John Dewey and Yale with George Trumball Ladd. While attending Harvard she could sit in on lectures from William James and Josiah Royce, with the help of her influential father and Wellesley College.
Calkins studied one on one with James because all the other students dropped the course. During this time, she arranged for private instruction with Edmund C. Sanford to study experimental psychology. While studying with Sanford, they looked at dream research. To study dreams, they used “introspection of their own dreams” (Young). Calkins published a whole piece called Statistics of Dreams to The American Journal of Psychology. This article used introspection to break the different types of dreams may occur. This was based on the dreams of two different people. At night, they took notes on their dreams and then they analyzed and studied them the following day.
In 1891, Calkins opened her own experimental psychology lab at Wellesley College after becoming an instructor of psychology which became the first lab at a women's college. Unfortunately, the lab caught on fire in 1914 and everything was demolished. A year after opening he lab, Calkins received permission from Harvard to study with Hugo Münsterberg, the new head of the psychology department, which Harvard approves her petition.
While Calkins was attending lectures at Harvard, she was never considered a student because they did not admit girls. She was able to attend only as faculty seeking training. After three years of Calkins studying with Münsterberg at Harvard, he wrote a letter to the University requesting that Calkins be given a Ph.D. because he hasn't met a more skilled student than her during his tenure. Unfortunately, his request was denied. In 1895, there was a doctoral examination held. The unanimous decision was that Calkins deserved to be awarded with the degree; however, Harvard still refused to award it to her because she was a woman. This feud continued for many years. The most Harvard was willing to offer Calkins was a degree from Radcliffe College which Calkins continuously refused.
Calkins is well known for her piece on paired-association which states that “individuals learn pairs of items until the presentation of one item leads to the recall of the other” (Young). After 1900, Calkins focuses her studies on philosophy but still focused on the self. She focused on self so much she started her own system of psychology called self psychology which is an introspective psychology. Self psychology understands the self as ‘a person which is conscious, which experiences, which functions, which drives or is driven” (Calkins, 1930, 44). Her other system was called personlistic absolutism which was influenced by Royce's idealism.
Calkins spent her entire career at Wellesley College where she became a Professor after three years of being an Assistant Professor in Philosophy. Calkins served as the 14th President of APA which was the first woman to serve in this position. Staying at Wellesley allowed her to care for her parents until she died on February 26, 1930.
Margaret Floy Washburn
Margaret Floy Washburn was born on July 25, 1871 in New York City. Washburn started her studies in philosophy and science and then pursues psychology at Columbia University with James McKeen Cattell. Like Mary Calkins, Washburn was not considered a student because they did not admit women in to the university. Not long after studying with Cattell she became a student of Edward Titchener. Titchener taught at Cornell University which admitted women and allowed them to earn a degree. In 1894, Washburn became the first woman to earn a Ph.D. in psychology.
Washburn was so dedicated to her research and her career that she did not marry. This was normal for women around this time. Women were usually expected to give up child rearing if they wanted an academic career. If a woman was married it was not likely that they would be hired to work in the world of academia. Washburn's decision not to marry was advantageous. In 1903, Washburn was offered a position as a faculty member at Vassar College. At Vassar, Washburn published multiple articles in experimental psychology with her students. The same year she was mentioned in Cattell's list of most important men in science and became editor of the American Journal of Psychology. She kept this position until the day she died.
Washburn was able to overcome the many barriers set forth by society at that time. Unlike many other women during this time, Washburn was well known and respected for her work. Although Washburn contributed to psychology in many ways, one that is most known was her consciousness and mental processes studies. She studied consciousness and mental awareness in animals (introspection by analogy) and published her findings in 1908. These findings were published in her first book called “The Animal Mind” which went through many editions over the years. For a number of years, “The Animal Mind” became the most used book in comparative psychology. Compared to other comparative psychology publications, Washburn's pushed psychology in the direction of growth. Washburn's second publication Movement and Mental Imagery discussed “the importance of motor movements on psychological processes in learning, attention and emotion” (Rodkey, 2010). Around this time, Titchener's structuralist view wasn't driving or inspiring Washburn's work. While at Vassar, Washburn collaborated on a study about the effects of music, The Emotional Effects of Instrumental Music, which she was awarded a $500 prize for.
Washburn's dedication to education showed not only in choosing career over a family but in her classroom. Her students boasted about how amazing she was as a professor. They even granted Washburn with $16,000 after serving 25 years at Vassar. The students wanted Washburn to treat herself with the money that she was granted. Instead, she put together scholarships for students that were pursuing psychology.
Among her many accomplishments, Washburn was the second woman to serves as American Psychological Association President in 1921. Another woman wasn't elected as president for another 50 years. Throughout Washburn's career she had many teaching opportunities such as at Wells College teaching psychology, philosophy and ethics, Sage College teaching social and animal psychology, and becoming an assistant professor at Vassar. In 1931, Washburn became the second woman to receive membership to the National Academy of Sciences. After a long and accomplished career, Washburn be died on October 29, 1939 which was two years after becoming ill and having to retire as an Emeritus Professor of Psychology.
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