Theory Of Intersectionality In Psychology

1600 Words7 Pages
Psychology is the study the human mind, including behaviors and disorders. However for much of history, the “human” in this definition has actually meant male. From the birth of psychology as a field, most of the research has been conducted by, for, and about men. The perspectives of women are historically severely lacking. In fairly recent times, women have gained the right to become psychologists, go to college, and participate in the research progress. However, the gains made are largely superficial and only apply to a small group of privileged women. The theory of intersectionality seeks to change the way people think about identities and social groups, and how certain factors may influence others in developing a person 's unique identity.…show more content…
Elizabeth Cole offers a great definition, saying that “feminist and critical race theories offer the concept of intersectionality to describe analytic approaches that simultaneously consider the meaning and consequences of multiple categories of identity, difference, and disadvantage” (2009). While it creates a much more accurate picture of what is going on inside the individual, it is also very difficult to conceptualize. Take the example of a lesbian woman - how much of her oppression comes from being gay? How much from her gender? Are they happening at the same time? Maybe she is white, how does that identity change and interact with the other two? The theory of intersectionality tries to deal with this best it can by changing the way we think about people. No one is comprised of a single identity. In psychological research, findings that are said to be true in women are too broad because women have different experiences based on their other intersecting identities and situations. To truly understand something, it is necessary to understand how it operates in diverse groups that differ from the white female undergraduate. This is in direct opposition to what is known as white feminism. These are feminists that tend to focus on issues they can see and relate to. They tend to disregard other perspectives or activism that…show more content…
This causes problems since “male” traits were seen as the default, and anything other than those was a defect. In the time since then, psychology has flipped to being a female dominated field, at least at the undergraduate level. While this may seem like a huge accomplishment, and the progress shouldn’t be ignored, it is important to keep in mind that these gains have been made by white women. Women of color are still very underrepresented in psychology, both as researchers and as subjects. In this way, the theoretical approach of intersectionality could help people understand diverse backgrounds and experiences. Research could be done with different, more diverse populations, and care should be taken when generalizing results across groups. However, intersectionality may still leave some people out due to the way that people in the western world tend to think. Progress will be slow, and operationalizing will be a challenge. Ultimately, this approach should do a lot of good in increasing how inclusive psychology is, and will hopefully lead to an even better method in the
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