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Women Contribution to Psychology Essay

The essay is written about Margaret Flow Washburn. The essay speaks of her background from her early teenage years and progressing through her career as a psychologist, her battles of a woman during an American period where women equal rights of educational progress was not the same as men. The essay also speaks on the contributions to her field of psychology presenting theories on the animal mind and her motor theory. Women Contributions to Psychology Margaret Floy Washburn started out as a decisive student who attended Vassari College upon graduation was divided between science and philosophy.

Margaret Floy Washburn would go on to be a one of the few Pioneers for women who would go onto be successful Psychologist. Today Margaret Floy Washburn is known best for her work in comparative psychology and her book The Animal Mind would go to be four editions, become the standard textbook of its day (Goodwin, 2008). Her experimental research and focus toward cognitive process of perception, attention, and consciousness of various species would go on to be groundbreaking, contributing to scientist of today experimental theories.

As with any Psychologist of past time her theory or experiments should be looked as steppingstones, to apply corrective action to information they may have missed or did not at the time have the capabilities of requiring. Margaret Floy Washburn Throughout this essay briefly discussing on Margaret Floy history, struggles as a woman trying to break the barrier, and her some of her best known work as a psychologist below. Brief early history of Margaret Floy Washburn Margaret Floy Washburn was born July 25, 1871 in New York City Biography of Margaret Flow Washburn, Para. 1).

At the age of 15, she attended college at Vassar College in Poughkeepsie and soon became a member of Kappa Alpha Theta Sorority. Ladd-Franklin had also attended the same college many years before Margaret and soon after Margaret graduation she applied for graduate studies at Columbia University. Women were not permitted to study at Columbia at the time, she had entered the college only as observer where she was noticed as a serious student by Cattell but could only attend his classes unofficially (Goodwin, 2008).

Cattell recommended her to apply at the Sage school of Philosophy at Cornell because they were accepting women graduate students and seen the un-keen potential in her. Margaret would encounter E. B. Titchener, who accepted Margaret into his laboratory, and she would go on to be responsible for experiments and research under E. B. Titchener. Margaret will go on to be the first woman to earn a PhD in Psychology in 1894.

During the rest of her adult life, Margaret taught at several colleges, including Sage College, Wells College, and University of Cincinnati and in 1903 returning to her Alma mater as Associate Professor of Philosophy for Vassar up until her retirement in 1937 (Biography of Margaret Flow Washburn, Para. 1). She died on October 29, 1939 at her home in Poughkeepsie, New York. Breaking through the Barrier Margaret Floy Washburn fought many battles as woman trying to break into Psychology.

First, she had been accepted into the graduate school of Columbia University as only a “hearer” because women were not permitted entry into Columbia University graduate program. She only attended Columbia University for a year before applying at the Sage School of Philosophy at Cornell University where she became the first woman to obtain her Ph. D. in Psychology in 1894. Margaret Floy Washburn was considered a pioneer for her fight for equal educational opportunities for women. She initially had encountered resistance to her academic pursuit at Columbia University.

Margaret had to wait three months before convincing the trustees to let her attend Cattell’s classes at Columbia. Some say Margaret success came because of the contributing factor that her family was financially and emotionally supportive of her academic pursuits and Rodkey (2010) stated, “the large family inheritance allowed for her to attend private school, and which in turn led to her rapid completion of public school. ” Margaret was pushing her career to limits during a period in American history when women were excluded from many academic programs and did not hold prestigious positions.

This was a reason she never married. Women who married during this American period who worked in the academic field would be expected to resign their position upon marriage. Not marrying put Margaret at advantage over other women psychologist who did marry. This allowed her to hold numerous positions during her career, becoming a well respected teacher and researcher. Margaret positions were assistant professor of the Department of Psychology, professor of psychology, philosophy, and ethics, lecturer for social, animal psychology, and undergraduate psychology professor.

Not only did she hold different positions through her pursuit as Psychologist she also published 69 experimental studies, and ranked top 50 psychologist of in America (Rodkey, 2010. ) Margaret became well known for her argument against Titchner’s structural psychology. After had already backing Titchner’s view’s early in her career. Margaret Floy Washburn went on the record of stating that Titchner’s views were “worth while to describe conscious states, but not, in describing them, to turn them into something unrecognizable” (Pillsbury, 1940, pg. ).

Psychological Research and Views As stated above Margaret Flow Washburn psychological research views became unique as, she progressed in her career. With the development of her own system she would provide others with skepticism of their own formulas between the relationship of sensation and attribute and also of the exclusive use of introspection as the method of psychology. Motor Theory. She stated “While consciousness exists and is not a form of movement, it has as its indispensable basis certain motor rocesses, and… the only sense in which we can explain conscious processes is by studying the laws governing these underlying motor phenomena” When discussing Margaret earlier work, she attempted to find a common ground with Tutchener, by coming up with the motor theory. Her theory argued that bodily movement and thought are similar, and cannot use one without using the other; the consciousness would arise when movement is inhibited by a tendency toward another movement.

Learning is associated with movement with a set of regular series and combinations. The motor theory is about thoughts traced back to bodily movement. This theory was presented in her early papers and chapters of her books “Feelings and Emotions: The Wittenberg Symposium and Psychologies of 1930” and Movement and Mental Imagery: Outlines of a Motor theory of the Complexer Mental Processes” (Wikipedia contributors, 2013, Margaret Floy Washburn, Para. 11). The Animal Mind. Margaret Floy Washburn would best be known for her work in comparative psychology.

Her well-known text, “The Animal Mind” published in 1908. The textbook was a compiled research on experimental work in animal psychology, and covered a range of mental activities. The textbook was written during a time when research was done predominantly on rats. Margaret had cover more than 100 species, including the simplest of animals. She would look into their sense of perception; this includes hearing, vision, kinesthetic, and tactual sensation. Her main focus of the textbook is animal behavior.

Her textbook would go through four editions (1917, 1926, and 1936) and became the standard textbook of its day (Goodwin, 2008). In her chapters of “The Animal Mind” suggested the animal psyches contained mental structures similar to that of human being and suggested that an animal consciousness is not qualitatively different from that of human beings. Margaret stated in her words “Our acquaintance with the mind of animals rests upon the same basis as our acquaintance with the mind of our fellow man: both are derived by inference from observed behavior.

The actions of our fellow man resemble our own, and we therefore infer in them like subjective states to ours: the actions of animals resemble our less completely, but the difference is one of degree, not of kind… We know not where consciousness begins in the animal world. We know where it surely resides—in ourselves; we know where it exists beyond a reasonable doubt—in those animals of structure resembling ours which rapidly adapt themselves to the lessons of experience.

Beyond this point, for all we know, if may exist in simpler and simpler forms until we reach the very lowest of living being” (Wikipedia contributors, 2013, Margaret Floy Washburn, Para. 10). Conclusion Margaret Flow Washburn has been viewed as pioneer because of her push to become equally accredited for her success a woman, argumentative theories with Tutchener, and the development of her successful textbook “The Animal Mind. ” She has been viewed a woman of success when encountered by obstacles would find ways to bi-past them and continue with her drive.

Margaret Flow Washburn is an influential woman who has successfully set up all women after her pursuing a career in psychology to be successful and to have the same educational rights as men. This resulted in Columbia University to start Faculty of Philosophy who admits women to classes with instructor permission; authorizes the awarding of PhDs to women. Margaret has gone on to be one the most respected female Psychologist of her time and present day.


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