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In a Different Voice: Psychological Theory and Women's Development

4.06  ·  Rating details ·  3,844 ratings  ·  114 reviews
This book started a revolution. Published decades ago, it made women's voices heard, in their own right, with their own integrity, for virtually the 1st time in social scientific theorizing about women. Its impact was immediate & continues in the academic world & beyond. Translated into 16 languages, with over 750,000 copies sold. In a Different Voice has inspired new rese ...more
Paperback, 192 pages
Published July 1st 1993 by Harvard University Press (first published 1982)
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Ladyfilosopher Thought experiments are a regular experiential exercise practiced in Philosophy studies, so philosophy students are used to engaging with them. They a…moreThought experiments are a regular experiential exercise practiced in Philosophy studies, so philosophy students are used to engaging with them. They are often used in fMRI scans to try and see what lights up in the brain when we attempt to come to a decision. Do you remember what your answers were to the cancer medicine dilemma? (less)

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Joshua Nomen-Mutatio
Very thought-provoking and led to some of the better discussions I had in my first year of college, but I reject many of the premises Gilligan launches from, namely, that there's some essential nature to female psychology and male psychology--or at least the type of highly specified nature she ends up positing. I think human psychology is a much more fractured and varied set of phenomena than this and that the landscape of large-scale generalizations about gender traits (though sometimes useful ...more
I will start off by noting that of course this book is dated and eminently critique-able in a number of ways: it's binary, essentialist, complementarist, heteronormative, prescribes a normative view of psychological development that may do damage to any number of abnormal subjects, blinded by whiteness, inadequately class-conscious, generally lacking in intersectionality, rooted in standpoint epistemology, etc....

BUT. It is also profoundly generative and important, and it strongly resonated with
Sleepless Dreamer
I have studied about this book in three of my classes. The context was different each time and the way it was explained was very different as well. So I figured that this is a good book to read to get an insight into my classes (you might think this shows how dedicated I am but really, this is an elaborate way to procrastinate).

In Political Science, we went through feminism and brought this up as the difference between feminism that says women are exactly like men and feminism that says that wo
Robin Tobin (On the back porch reading)
I completely devoured this book!
Jan 21, 2015 added it
This is one of those books that I want to like but just... can't. I'm with her on the idea that we need to include women's perspectives in analyses of developmental psychology, rather than just relying on men's experiences/perceptions/language etc. But she veers soooo close to essentialism in her extended discussions of women's language and emphases on attachment, etc. I was more on board with her argument that "maturity" should include incorporation of both "rights" and "care" positions, where ...more
Jan 29, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2009, school, hup, borrowed
i am hitting the jackpot on timely reading lately. this ties in to a lot of things i've been thinking about and illuminates some interesting patterns. gilligan's central point (and be aware, this book is about thirty years old and we're talking in broad generalizations that do not apply to everyone) is that the societal paths of development for men and women differ in that men develop along a path measured by individualism and absolute justice while women develop along a path of connectivity. th ...more
Jul 13, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a must for all women (and men....) as it gives a very clear insight in how much we misunderstand ourselves, being so trained to use male measurements and fit into a male world. Every page was a revelation to me, often painful and shocking in its obvious simplicity, about how stunted our understanding of ourselves is, how much we mirror ourselves to a male world, how much we cover up who we really are, try to cope and haven't really taken charge of our own development yet. It leaves big q ...more
Oct 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Everyone should read this book on ethics of care. Especially now in Poland and other countries which struggle with an abortion ban.
Nov 20, 2010 rated it really liked it
I am inclined to agree with many of the other reviewers in that Gilligan's findings are liberating but a bit shakey because of the small sample she uses to perform her research and for the gravity of the issues she researched such as abortion. While I will cite her work in my own thesis because my professor likes her, I'm not sure that I agree with everything she says.

Being written more than 25 years ago, I think that I am living my life understanding the truths that Gilligan wrote about while
Dec 28, 2013 rated it liked it
The overall premise was interesting, and, as a woman and a professional who relies on psychological developmental theories to inform my work, I appreciate the acknowledgment that women have been largely omitted from these theories. I really liked how Gilligan reconciled the two perspectives as interconnected and necessary to reach mature development. However, I was disappointed that the area of how these differences came to be was not even referred to or hinted at through a lot of the repetitive ...more
Oct 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
Super interesting--probably a bit outdated and maybe even overturned? It was very academic, but such an important analysis.
Steven Fowler
Feb 07, 2014 rated it really liked it
This book helped change the way I think about ethics and cultural backgrounds and even how one goes about research. Gilligan's book is not and should not be considered in any way supportive of an essentialist argument about what a man's man is and what the fairer sex is. While there are definitive biological and physiological differences, gender differences, those culturally based judgments are rooted not in nature but in fact they come about through nurturing; what we are taught to expect of ou ...more
Jan 28, 2010 rated it really liked it
After reading Carol Gilligan's novel, Kyra, and loving her female characters, I figured it was finally time to take this book off my shelf and actually read it. I had cited it in several college and graduate school papers, but had never taken the time to read the whole thing. As so often happens, it was the perfect book to read at this point in my life.

I enjoyed the perspective her research provides of how differently girls develop than boys. Gilligan uses examples all throughout life to illust
Nick Klagge
Nov 21, 2010 rated it really liked it
A quick read and highly recommended. This book is Gilligan's response to years of academic study of moral development that had "just happened" to focus solely on males. Her critique is devastating and it is almost unbelievable that so much work was done with such a clear gender bias. Gilligan sets out a very believable "parallel path" of women's development that, satisfyingly, converges toward the same major issues that men struggle with, but from a different direction. I always like reading boo ...more
Helen Kantor
Jan 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing
It's hard to believe this book was written in 1982, and hard to believe I missed it then. I've known about Carol Gilligan regardless, but never went to the source to read her directly. All these years later, the book still offers invaluable insight about women, our differences in thinking, communication, values, and behavior. But she also sheds light on the history of being measured against men - and the fallacy of having men be the barometer of women's innate strengths. Excellent book, clearly ...more
Jan Graham
Mar 01, 2015 rated it really liked it
As someone who now studies normative ethics, or the framework for values within morality, the author presents a practical and logical picture of variables which influence morality. Specifically, the author noted that by restricting the female voice, unwittingly perpetuated a male-voice civilization, which becomes a male perspective generalized to both male and female gender. Furthermore, despite differences between men and women, the author noted that it is not just about those differences, but ...more
Jan 02, 2009 added it
Recommends it for: People who study psychology and gender.
Recommended to Victor by: Someone who reads a lot of psychology.
Honestly speaking, it is kind of difficult to review a psychology book that deals with gender to me. I was advised by someone to read this, and while I found some parts to be interesting, I can think of quite a few people who would completely rip on it. At the same time, there are some people who would really like it.

This is something that you would have to read and decide what you think for yourself. I do not feel confident enough to rate this book properly.
Dec 04, 2011 rated it liked it
I picked this book up in the mid 1980s and found it really difficult to read. The first chapter is definitely the hardest. It is not a novel - it is a feminist book on psychology.

I kept the book on my bookshelf (still have it) and picked it up and put it down many times until I was ready and able to get through it.

So appreciate this work on behalf of women.

And Gilligan was courageous to frame her theory within the moral dilemma of deciding whether to have an abortion or not.
Jul 08, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This book was a game changer for my career. As a young psychologist, I knew the famous theories didn't always fit but I didn't understand why. When I read this book, the lights came on. Over the years there have been significant issues raised about Gilligan's research. However, the fact remains, women do view the world differently than men (why is a different question) and this book lead the way in pushing researchers to consider the differences. ...more
Jul 08, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: psychology
I read this my sophomore year of high school, but I remember that it really made me think. I have the book and will go back and read it sometime . . . maybe when I have a daughter. I'm not sure that I agreed with everything from the perspective of being a girl, but there were some things that she expressed that I realized, "yeah, that has happened to me as I've grown up." ...more
Sep 17, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone over 16.
Recommended to Judith by: Part of my psych training.
The first REAL study of the differences between males and females that does not have an ax to grind - it doesn't try to justify one sex above another. ...more
Lori Pitts
Mar 20, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this in college in a women's studies course. It changed my life and it also helped me get out of a very verbally abusive relationship my first marriage. ...more
Charity Coffman
Jul 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This book is arguably the most influential book in the field of female psychology. Every page brings knowing nodding..
Jul 17, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: all who believe that the differences are important
When this book came out in 1982 it was regarded as an epoch-making feminist study. It has since been in large part sidelined, and the author has shown a seeming reluctance to pursue the promising theses she then proposed.
In a Different Voice brings out woman's distinctive mode of personal fulfillment. Its main premiss is that 20th century psychological reflection and investigation, in measuring human maturity, has followed standards (such as capacity for autonomous thinking, clear decision-mak
Ryan Griffin
Jun 19, 2020 rated it liked it
This book is very interesting for the ways in which it explores the differing socializations of different genders and the resulting effects on how gendered individuals interact with each other and society. It delivers an interesting and eye-opening exploration of a feminine worldview by rejecting and rebelling against prejudicial appraisals of femininity by the dominant psychological establishment and culture. However, as the book defines the feminine worldview only in the context of the western ...more
Tristan Lear
Jul 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I majored in Women's & Gender Studies. And they never made me read this book. Which ... in my opinion, is fucked up!

Rather, the chair of the psych dept lent me her copy and it blew my mind in so many domains - from abstract politics to concrete conflicts in my own life - they all related to these complimentary - yet incomplete on their own - systems of morality: the feminine ethic of responsibilities & the masculine ethic of rights.

I'm in the process of trying to get my fox news grandmother to
Apr 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Rereading this work to refresh my memory. I have a strong feeling that it is not what I remembered it was years ago. As we grow older, our moral reasoning does change. Complexity and responsibility are factors that play heavily into our life drama. Covid-19, for example, can make for an interesting situation. What decisions would I make today if given the chance to change the direction of my life? A terrifying thought, indeed.
As of this last entry, I am sad that our world has to struggle so har
Sep 23, 2017 rated it did not like it
Not sure if it was awful or just severely out of date, but even the studies she point to in order to highlights differences between the genders mainly use tiny sample sizes, aren't double-blind in any way, and are anecdotal more than scientific. My aunt suggested I read this as a 'classic' on gender differences, but perhaps I was just raised differently, because I didn't identify with the feelings that any of these women claimed. ...more
Vítor Medeiros
Dec 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Even though some parts of Gilligan's work (which have been, at this point, ostensibly criticized) are, indeed, binarist, essentialist and overall rough around the edges, In a Different Voice provided the psychological and especially philosophical discourse a much needed reflection on morality traditionally viewed as feminine. ...more
Kulwarn Parmar
Mar 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Required reading for men

I highly recommend to men with young daughter. You'll gain insights to how girls make ethical and moral choices. They have different framework than boys and men which is equally good or better. The understanding you gain wil! Help you be better parent!
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Carol Gilligan is Affiliated University Professor at New York University School of Law.

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According to some historians, the month of April is actually named after Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love, by way of the Romans....
42 likes · 26 comments
“Women's deference is rooted not only in their social subordination but also in the substance of their moral concern. Sensitivity to the needs of others and the assumption of responsibility for taking care lead women to attend to voices other than their own and to include in their judgement other points of view.” 4 likes
“... I draw on the work of Piaget (1968) in identifying conflict as the harbinger of growth and also on the work of Erikson (1964) who, in charting development through crisis, demonstrates how a heightened vulnerability signals the emergence of a potential strength, creating a dangerous opportunity for growth, "a turning point for better or worse" (p. 139).” 0 likes
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