Blazing and illuminating a trail: the career and scholarship of Janet Taylor Spence

Bigler, R. S. (2017). "Blazing and illuminating a trail: the career and scholarship of Janet Taylor Spence." Sex Roles 77(11-12): 734-742.

Janet Taylor Spence was a gender pioneer in her career as an academic psychologist and an important contributor to the psychological study of gender roles. That is, she both blazed a path for women in academia and contributed to our scientific understanding of the factors that produce and shape such paths. In this piece, I address both these aspects of her life and work. I begin by briefly highlighting Spence's groundbreaking posts in academia and her influence on my own academic career. With respect to her research, I identify five aspects of Spence's work that were innovative and made important, lasting contributions to theoretical and empirical approaches to understanding gender in the United States. I first describe Spence's commitment to challenging the ideological beliefs about gender held by laypeople and scientists alike by engaging in empirical tests of commonly held beliefs. I next review Spence's argument that within-individual variability of gender-typing of the self is normative rather than unusual. Third, I describe Spence's beliefs about the relation between gender-typing of the self and gender-typing of others, and fourth, I describe Spence's work concerning the mechanisms that support self-perceived femininity and masculinity. In the fifth and final section, I highlight Spence's treatment of environmental contributions to gender role development.

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