|Eye on Psi Chi: Spring 2019|
Eye on Psi Chi
Spring 2019 | Volume 23 | Issue 3
Inspiring the Next Generation of Psychologists: I am Psyched! as a Catalyst for Research and Professional Growth
Leslie D. Cramblet Alvarez, PhD,
K. Nicole Jones, PhD,
I am Psyched! is a national tour created by a partnership among the APA Women’s Programs Office, the Drs. Nicholas and Dorothy Cummings Center for the History of Psychology, and Psychology’s Feminist Voices Oral History and Digital Archive Project that seeks to highlight and educate people about the accomplishments of women of color within the field of psychology. To achieve this goal, the tour acts as an interactive pop-up museum that is quick to set-up and full of valuable information. The exhibit features giant informational slides about eminent women of color in psychology and their role within the field. The slides have biographical information and supplementary materials such as examples of sexism in home economic courses. In addition to the informational slides, interactive pieces to the exhibit allow visitors to tune into videos, discuss women who have impacted them, and identify their future goals.
This exhibit is, in part, the product of an unfortunate reality surrounding women of color’s invisibility as psychology pioneers. To understand this, we must acknowledge that women of color have made amazing contributions to the field of psychology and the world as a whole. For example, the museum has information on Mamie Phipps Clark, a dedicated researcher who led studies that provided evidence for the desegregation of schools. Without her, an important historical event might not have occurred, yet very few people even know her name. This lack of recognition for women of color’s accomplishments is frustrating, and therefore fueled the efforts to educate students. By acknowledging past and present psychologists, with an emphasis on female pioneers, I am Psyched! aims to galvanize young women of all nationalities to pursue psychology as a career.
I am Psyched! is a much-needed movement in the field of psychology. It demonstrates the diversity of psychologists, and highlights the many struggles women of color have faced to achieve recognition. One compelling aspect of this museum is that some of the barriers faced by women of the past are still faced by women today. Although they are often “hidden figures,” important contributions have been made to the field of psychology by women of color. By bringing to light the contributions of (often overlooked) women, in addition to highlighting the diversity of the field; young women may be inspired to pursue psychology. The future of psychology will benefit from the diversity of this perspective, and ultimately move the field forward.
Research Inspired by I Am Psyched!
Both due to the resurgence of feminist movements including worldwide women’s marches, and our increasing familiarity with the I Am Psyched! exhibit, we were prompted to evaluate how women and people of color were recognized by psychology students. It would be assumed that this population should be able to recognize eminent psychologists with ease, but our study found that psychologists who were women or people of color were rarely recognized by students.
To examine this, we surveyed junior and senior psychology majors across the United States and found a huge disparity between the recognition scores for male and female pioneers. Even more distressing, women and men of color were the least recognized groups. To examine how women and people of color are represented in textbooks, we chose five commonly used History and Systems textbooks for a content analysis. Our research found that psychologists who were women and people of color were rarely mentioned. We believe that the lack of representation in textbooks perhaps explains why students are not able to recognize female pioneers of psychology to the extent of which they recognize white male pioneers. It was not unexpected, but still surprising to see upper level psychology majors’ lack of knowledge about women of color in psychology. However, it is hard to blame students for not knowing something they may not be exposed to in the classroom. Further, it generates interesting questions about women’s and people of color’s representation in the psychology curriculum more broadly.
This research demonstrates the importance of exhibits like I Am Psyched! because psychology majors still need more education to be able to identify the accomplishments of eminent female and minoritized psychologists. As students and as educators, we need to be talking about these women, saying their names, and not accepting the omission of their accomplishments and their diversity from history. The students involved in this project presented their work at the 2018 Rocky Mountain Psychological Association convention as part of a diversity symposium moderated by Cramblet Alvarez and Jones (2018), along with Dr. Shari Miles-Cohen (2018), senior director of the APA’s Women’s Program Office (Leach & Ringler, 2018; Walljasper-Schuyler, & Trujillo, 2018; Weiser & Rodriguez, 2018). Further, the survey portion of this research is currently in press for publication in the upcoming Psi Chi Journal special issue, “Education, Research, and Practice for a Diverse World,” which will be released in summer 2019 (Cramblet Alvarez et al., in press).
I Am Psyched! Students’ Reflect on Their Professional Growth
MARISSA TRUJILLO Having the chance to sit down and have a conversation with Dr. Shari Miles-Cohen, who is the senior director of the APA Women’s Program Office, really made me reflect on what route I want to take once I finish with my undergraduate work. And being able to meet so many other psychology students and professionals in psychology has really shown me the importance of networking in order to take those next big steps after graduation. The most fulfilling part of the convention was being able to present the research my team and I have been working on for so long. It was nice to know that the audience was really paying attention to what we were talking about. We had many compliments, and also great questions that could lead to further research. Having the background knowledge on the women who were mentioned in the exhibit made the whole experience more meaningful. Being both a woman and a person of color, I found their contributions to be inspiring, and they have motivated me to work toward making a name for myself in the field of psychology.
JONAH LEACH I developed as a professional in many ways while being involved as a docent and an educator for this exhibit. Being able to educate others about these incredible women in a professional setting was an amazing feeling. In addition, being involved in this exhibit allowed me to talk to several individuals, while both giving and receiving a lot of valuable information. This ultimately gave me a lot of input or feedback on the program itself. These interactions alone gave me a great feeling of what it is like to work on a project that goes beyond just myself.
I believe one of the most enjoyable parts of the convention was presenting our research alongside Dr. Miles-Cohen, and showing those at the symposium that women and people of color are highly underrepresented and unrecognized in the history of psychology. It was great to see that so many people had an interest in the research and were appalled at the differences in representation between white men, women, and people of color. All the questions at our symposium means that we made others think about the research and this much needed movement in psychology.
CHELSEA WALLJASPER-SCHUYLER I enjoyed having the opportunity to be involved with the museum throughout the convention. One of my favorite parts was how many people came through the exhibit, and how excited everyone was to participate in the event. This helped me grow as a professional because it required me to be a bit more extroverted because I had to encourage people to enter the event and participate in the interactive pieces of the exhibit. Embracing the extroverted nature of being a docent, I also spoke to other students and heard their perspective on the exhibit and our research. This helped me grow my ability to network and create connections during the convention with people who have similar research interests. Overall, I am very grateful that I was given the opportunity to help host such a unique and important event.
JEROME RODRIGUEZ By participating as a docent for the I Am Psyched! exhibit, I developed a deeper appreciation for the way in which information can be presented. Those who came to see the exhibit responded to different aspects that the popup museum offered. So when it came time to sign in visitors, I found that it was important to highlight each feature of the exhibit with detail, and to allow them to explore and take part in the activities without interruption. Although not always the case, allowing the visitors to their own devices eventually led to some asking questions in an area of the exhibit that interested them.
The most enjoyable/fulfilling part of the convention in my opinion was the presentation of our research. Considering all the work and time that we all contributed, it was fulfilling to see everything we had learned come together. In addition, it was rewarding to be able to share this work with an audience who would better understand and appreciate what we were presenting.
MIKAYLA WEISER The experience that I had being a docent for this exhibit was invaluable. Not only did I get the chance to have conversations with amazing and inspiring women, I was also able to prepare by studying the featured women. The surprising fact that most attendees knew very little of the women in the exhibit was an opportunity to share their legacies and their stories in the hopes that they would be passed on. Another great aspect of this experience was learning how many of the women who I had met had experienced some of the same issues that live on today for women of color. Hearing their stories lent so much importance to the research we were doing and to the exhibit itself. Presenting our research was a milestone personally and professionally, and having Dr. Shari Miles-Cohen make an appearance at our convention was an incredible moment for me. The exhibit she has helped to create was a turning point for me and so many others, and having the chance to share this work while representing Adams State University made this an unforgettable experience.
RACHAEL RINGLER As a museum docent, I had to interact with people who not only were students but professors as well. I had to make sure that I did not sound condescending when telling the professors about these women, and get people excited about the exhibit without letting all the interesting facts go under the radar. I learned to speak briefly and hit the most important parts about the women in the exhibit. I also had to promote social media in a professional setting, something that was very different for me. This is because most people see social media as a joke, but I actually helped Dr. Shari Miles-Cohen use Snapchat. (Marissa Trujillo and I were in Dr. Miles-Cohen’s first Snapchat picture!) I had a great time presenting and look forward to being on another research team. I felt like a celebrity when a student asked to take a picture with our research team, because it feels like we are actually doing work that is going to make a difference and that can really resonate with psychologists and even women in general.
Cramblet Alvarez, L. D., & Jones, K. N. (Moderators, April, 2018). I am Psyched! at RMPA: History, recognition, and representation of women of color in psychology. Invited symposium presented at the Rocky Mountain Psychological Association Convention in Denver, Co.
Cramblet Alvarez, L. D., Jones, K. N., Walljasper-Schuyler, C., Trujillo, M., Weiser, M. A., Rodriguez, J. L., Ringler, R. L., & Leach, J. L. (in press). Psi Chi Journal of Psychological Research, 24.
Leach, J. L., & Ringler, R. L. (April, 2018). Say my name: Representation of women and people of color in history of psychology textbooks. In L. D. Cramblet Alvarez and K. N. Jones (Moderators). I am Psyched! at RMPA: History, recognition, and representation of Women of Color in psychology. Invited symposium presented at the Rocky Mountain Psychological Association Convention in Denver, Co.
Miles-Cohen, S. (April, 2018). I am Psyched! Inspiring Histories, Inspiring Lives. In L. D. Cramblet Alvarez and K. N. Jones (Moderators). I am Psyched! at RMPA: History, recognition, and representation of women of color in psychology. Invited symposium presented at the Rocky Mountain Psychological Association Convention in Denver, Co.
Walljasper-Schuyler, C., & Trujillo, M. (April, 2018). College students’ ability to recognize prominent women and people of color in psychology. In L. D. Cramblet Alvarez and K. N. Jones (Moderators). I am Psyched! at RMPA: History, recognition, and representation of women of color in psychology. Invited symposium presented at the Rocky Mountain Psychological Association Convention in Denver, Co.
Weiser, M.A., & Rodriguez, J. L. (April, 2018). Delving into the historical and contemporary barriers of women and minorities in psychology: A review. In L. D. Cramblet Alvarez and K. N. Jones (Moderators). I am Psyched! at RMPA: History, recognition, and representation of women of color in psychology. Invited symposium presented at the Rocky Mountain Psychological Association Convention in Denver, Co.
Adams State University (CO) and Colorado Mesa University’s Psi Chi and Psychology Clubs collaborated to serve as docents for the I Am Psyched! exhibit at the 2018 Rocky Mountain Psychological Association (RMPA) annual convention. A small group of Adams State undergraduates participated in a History of Women in Psychology class to prepare for their role in the museum. They investigated historical and contemporary barriers women and, in particular, women of color faced in their quests to pursue and receive PhDs in psychology, and issues related to discrimination, intersectionality, and inequity. As part of the course, they completed a research project related to psychology juniors and seniors’ ability to recognize prominent female historical figures, and whether women are represented in history of psychology textbooks. Dr. Leslie Cramblet Alvarez (Adams State University) and Dr. Nikki Jones (Colorado Mesa University), both Psi Chi advisors, supervised this project.
Copyright 2019 (Vol. 23, Iss. 3) Psi Chi, the International Honor Society in Psychology