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In this introduction to the reflective essays of the trailblazing women in the field of psychology featured in Reflections from Pioneering Women in Psychology, Newton and Bookwala provide historical context, both societal and specific to psychology. Many of the women in this volume began their careers when women were not expected to succeed academically and were often less than welcome in psychology departments. The women profiled in this book not only succeeded but flourished - transforming the field of psychology and enabling it to broaden and further develop as they went - and join the ranks of previous pioneering women in the discipline. In many ways, the history of women in psychology parallels the progress that Women’s Rights Movements gained during the last century. Newton and Bookwala emphasize that while this volume adds to previous histories of women in psychology, it is also unique, given that the essays are written by the contributors themselves in their own voices. This chapter situates and introduces these narratives, which outline the challenges and successes the women faced in their remarkable careers.
In the concluding chapter, Bookwala and Newton reflect on the women featured in this volume as a collective, highlighting commonalities in their experiences, strengths, and influence as psychologists. These pioneers, who stand on the shoulders of other women who entered psychology decades earlier, have had distinguished careers and have transformed their fields, institutions, and academia through their contributions and accomplishments. Using theoretical frameworks and key constructs within life span development, Bookwala and Newton weave together a tapestry to explain these remarkable women’s journeys as trailblazers and paradigm changers in a climate and environment in academia that was unwelcome and even hostile to women. Bookwala and Newton also use their concluding chapter to situate the volume in the COVID-19 pandemic, which has had a profound and disproportionate impact on the professional and personal lives of women scholars: an impact that could be prolonged, and that risks undermining the very strides in gender equity that the contributors in this volume fought so hard for and won.
This volume traces the life journeys of a cohort of influential and transformative women in psychology, now in or nearing retirement, who have changed the discipline and the broader world of academia in significant ways. The 26 reflective essays record how these scholars thrived in an academic landscape that was often, at best, unwelcoming, and, at worst, hostile, toward them. They explicitly and implicitly acknowledge that their paths were inextricably linked with the evolution of women's roles in society; they highlight and celebrate their achievements as much as they acknowledge and recognize the obstacles, barriers, and hurdles they overcame. They tell their stories with candor and humor, resulting in a compilation of inspiring essays. The end result of these individual narratives is a volume that provides a unique resource for current and future academics to help them navigate through the crossroads, curves, and challenges of their own careers in academia.
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