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Carol Friedman Gilligan

(1936- )


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GILLIGAN, CAROL FRIEDMAN (1936– ), U.S. social psychologist. Daughter of William E. Friedman and Mabel (Caminez) Friedman, Carol Gilligan spent her early years in New York City. Her mother was a teacher and therapist and her father an attorney. Gilligan, who describes her Jewish identity as rooted in Reconstructionist Judaism, celebrated her bat mitzvah at the Society for the Advancement of Judaism in New York. She received her B.A. in literature in 1958 from Swarthmore College, M.A. in 1960 from Radcliffe College in clinical psychology, and doctorate in 1964 from Harvard University in social psychology. After a departure from academia to a world of dance, motherhood, and political activism, Gilligan returned to teaching, at the University of Chicago in 1965–66 and then at Harvard in 1968. Gilligan became a full professor at Harvard in 1986 and in 1997 was named Harvard's first professor of gender studies, occupying the Patricia Abjerg Graham Chair. In 1999, Gilligan returned to her childhood home of New York City and became a visiting professor at New York University, where she was named university professor in 2002.

Carol Gilligan's work fundamentally altered the world of psychological theory and research by demonstrating that gender was a central component in human behavior and development. Beginning with her groundbreaking book, In a Different Voice: Psychological Theory and Women's Development (1982) and culminating in The Birth of Pleasure (2003), Gilligan proposed that women's moral and personal development did not conform to patterns of maturation that had been observed for men. She suggested that mainstream psychological theories about human growth reflected a male bias that ignored female identity and experience. During the 1980s, Gilligan founded the Harvard Project on Women's Psychology and Girls' Development and conducted two longitudinal studies tracing the relational worlds of girls between ages six and seventeen. This research profoundly influenced understanding of the tensions and dilemmas girls face in American society. Together with her graduate students, Gilligan edited or coauthored five books that stemmed from these and related studies in coeducational and urban public schools, Mapping the Moral Domain: A Contribution of Women's Thinking to Psychological Theory (1988);Making Connections: The Relational World of Adolescent Girls at Emma Willard School (1990);Women, Girls and Psychotherapy: Reframing Resistance (1991);Meeting at the Crossroads (1992) (New York Times Notable Book of the Year); and Between Voice and Silence: Women and Girls, Race and Relationship (1995). In the late 1990s, Gilligan turned her attention to the development of boys, with special focus on the early childhood years and parental relationships.

Gilligan received numerous awards, including a Grawemeyer Award for her contributions to education (1992), a Heinz Award for her contributions to understanding the human condition (1998), and a senior research award from the Spencer Foundation (1989–93). In 1996 she was named one of the 25 most influential Americans by Time magazine.


Sources:A. Medea, "Gilligan, Carol," in: P.E. Hyman and D.D. Moore (eds.), Jewish Women in America, vol. 1 (1997), 512–4.

[Miriam B. Raider-Roth (2nd ed.)]

Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.

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