Careers for Women in Psychology

woman lecturer with microphone

Women & Psychology Careers

Over the years the field of Psychology has changed a great deal with regard to gender. If you go back 40-45 yers you can see clearly the men dominated Psychology. Data from 1970 showedthat women  females received around 45% of all Psychology Bachelor’s degree, while data from the American Psychological Association (APA) showed that women received only 30% of all PhDs in psychology in 1975.

What is the status of women in Psychology today. Let's try and understand if (a) women earn more degrees, (b) women have more career opportunities as Psychology faculty, and (c) women with a Psychology background have greater chances for employment outside of Psychology.

In general, there have been major increases in the presence of women within psychology and psychology-related career paths. First, 2010 data showed that 75% of Bachelor’s degrees in psychology were awarded to women. It has been argued that this increase is due to both more women being enrolled on college campuses, and that women may be drawn to the field (at least for clinical areas) because  they view themselves as more empathic than men.

Second, APA showed that in 2008 women received 70% of all PhDs in Psychology. However, although women have been awarded the majority of PhDs in most sub-areas, in Cognitive Psychology women received  50% of PhDs. In addition. the increase in the number of PhDs has yet to lead to women surpassing men in senior faculty positions: Associate Professor (about 50%-50%), and Full Professors (women 30% and men 70%). It could be argued that it will simply take for women to be promoted to these advanced positions.

Third, the career opportunities outside of Psychology are looking very good for women with a Psycholog backgroundy:                                       


Lawyers                           5% (1970)                 34% (2015)

Teachers                        60% (1970s)               76% (2011)

Federal Government      15% (1976)                 44% (2009)

Military                             3% (1970)                 15% (2009)

Medical Doctors            10% (1970)                 33% (2014)

Social Work                   64% (early 1980s)       82% (2013)

career woman reading tablet
The implications of the above increases for women in Psychology-related fields is interesting. The increasing employment trends are a real plus for women. Many women desire a career  (e.g., higher education, private practice) in which there is typically greater flexibility in one's schedule. However, there have been some concerns raised that the increasing numbers for women in psychology-related careers will lead to the loss of diversity in these fields. For example, if there are too few male mental health workers it will be difficult to find therapists for those who seek treatment from a male therapist. 

Please note that the comments of Dr. Golding and the others who post on this blog express their own opinion and not that of the University of Kentucky.

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Baron-Cohen S (2002). The extreme male brain theory of autism. Trends Cogn Sci 6(6): 248–254. doi:10.1016/S1364-6613(02)01904-6. PMID 12039606.