Newsletter

Stay up to date with the latest from MAKERS delivered straight to your inbox. Sign up for new stories from trailblazing women, a big dose of inspiration, and exclusive MAKERS content.

Newsletter Confirmation

Thank you for joining! Please check your inbox for our special welcome letter
with exclusive updates from MAKERS.

MAKERS Moment

Ellis Island to the White House

Ellis Island to the White House

More From Carol

In this video

Tagged as

Gilligan reflects on how far she's come, only two generations after her ancestors immigrated to the U.S.

Carol's Biography

 
Cause of Choice: V-Day
Best advice: “Trust what you know and listen to yourself.”
Favorite Author: Virginia Woolfe.  “She gave me a lot of courage and made me feel very sane in places where otherwise I might have felt alone.”
Alternate Career: Modern dancer.

Carol Gilligan is a revolutionary psychologist and writer. She has authored many books and papers including her landmark work, In A Different Voice: Psychological Theory and Women’s Development, which transformed psychological theory and feminist thinking.
 
Gilligan was born in New York City in 1936, and graduated summa cum laude from Swarthmore College in 1958. She received a master’s degree in clinical psychology from Radcliffe College in 1960, and a Ph.D. in social psychology from Harvard in 1964. She returned to Harvard to teach in 1968, working under renowned psychology theorists Erik Ericson and Lawrence Kohlberg.
 
Although her work with Kohlberg generated a great deal of praise, Gilligan soon became disillusioned with the male-centered focus of his research. Gilligan began to question Kohlberg’s theory that a masculine, “rule-based” moral philosophy was primary and superior to a feminine, “relationship-based” moral philosophy.
 
She soon outlined an alternative approach to moral development in a paper that became her first book, In a Different Voice, published in 1982. In A Different Voice became a seminal text for both psychologists and feminists by arguing that men and women employ very different but equally valuable approaches to moral behavior and that these differences should be nourished rather than neglected. Her follow up research on girls’ development identified the dramatic drop-off in self-esteem and mental health as girls enter adolescence. The study inspired the Ms. Foundation’s popular annual campaign, “Take Our Daughters to Work Day,” begun in 1993 (now “Take Our Sons and Daughters to Work Day”).
 
Gilligan is now considered one of the most influential feminist thinkers in America. In addition to her prolific writings, she initiated the Harvard Project on Women’s Psychology and Girls’ Development and became Harvard’s first professor of Gender Studies in 1997. In 2002, she began teaching at New York University.

Related Videos

Billie Jean King
Billie Jean King
Tennis Champion & Activist

Billie Jean King first learned tennis in the late 1950s on the public courts in Long Beach, California. The game ultimately took her farther than she could possibly have imagined. ...

Cherríe Moraga
Cherríe Moraga
Writer & Playwright

Cherríe Moraga is a playwright, poet, and essayist whose plays and publications have received national recognition for her unique and personal perspective as a Chicana/Anglo...

Letty Cottin Pogrebin
Letty Cottin Pogrebin
Author & Co-Founder of Ms. Magazine

Women's activist Letty Cottin Pogrebin is a founding editor of Ms. magazine, co-founder of the National Women's Political Caucus, and the author of 10 books. A graduate...

Gabrielle Hamilton
Gabrielle Hamilton
Chef & Author

Gabrielle Hamilton is "not convinced that it is important to make a living at the thing that you aspire to," a perfect outlook for this chef & author. Initially aspir...