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What has changed for women in psychology?

3 minutes read • 12 February 2024

To mark International Women’s Day on Friday 8 March, we asked our three new Directors to comment on the role of women in psychology.

We put to them this question: “What has changed for women in psychology … and what still needs to change?”

And here are their responses.

Associate Professor Melissa Davis

I write as a white cis female and acknowledge my privilege. In Australia in 2024 we see women strongly taking a place in the full range of roles within psychology. In these roles, women bring immeasurable benefits to organisations, communities and individuals. 

But when we think of the theorists whose work underpins our education in psychology, we see a predominance of the work of men. And as for the diversity of people who identify as female, where do they see themselves in psychological research, textbooks and curricula? 

As such, I have two hopes for psychology for the next decade. I would like to see all people who identify as female leading and contributing to psychology research, practice and education.

I also hope to see the perspectives of all people who identify as female firmly embedded and valued in the education and training of our future researchers and practitioners.

Associate Professor Kaye Frankcom

Women have always been the backbone of the profession and discipline of psychology. We have females who have been chairs and leaders of various committees and working parties that have shaped psychology as we know it.

Currently we have female chairs of our health regulator, female chairs of our professional associations and also their CEOs, female heads of schools, female trail blazers who often went unsung even though they did so much for the greater good.

Psychology services are delivered by female practitioners who mentor, support and supervise our early career people. To be at the head of an organisation or entity as a woman is now more common but what still needs to change is that we see ourselves as the leaders we are, that we belong at the table and can be change agents.

Diversity continues to be our secret power and women are well placed to action the reforms that are required of our institutions. We must succeed for the sake of those to come.

Professor Gene Moyle

On International Women’s Day, it is encouraging to reflect on the welcome change regarding the visibility of women in psychology, even if this has taken many years and is still an evolving journey…

However, it is encouraging to note the increased recognition of the role many women in various fields of psychology have played to help shape the profession, contribute to advancing research, training the next generation and making a difference to the clients that we aim to support.

This has been a significant challenge to achieve and I am personally grateful for the many trailblazers – particularly in my field of Sport and Exercise Psychology – who have been exceptional role models, helped mentor and support early career practitioners and researchers, worked with instead of competed against fellow colleagues, all in order to pave the way and make it a little bit easier for us to follow.

And bit by bit, if we maintain this commitment and the “pay it back/pay it forward” mentality, we can keep advancing this visibility and creating further opportunities for women.

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