Sex Roles

, Volume 67, Issue 3–4, pp 158–173 | Cite as

Is Mainstream Psychological Research “Womanless” and “Raceless”? An Updated Analysis

  • Jessica L. Cundiff
Original Article


In the late 20th century, mainstream psychological research was accused of being “womanless” and “raceless” by excluding women and members of racial-ethnic minority groups and by interpreting their experiences as deviant from White male norms. The present article provides an updated analysis of the state of psychological research by examining research published in 2007 in eight prominent journals across four subdisciplines (N = 255). Two types of data were examined: (1) gender and racial-ethnic representation at the levels of editor, senior author, and participant, and (2) the presence of biased assumptions in reporting tendencies. Representation was interpreted in relation to relevant baselines drawn from U.S. data. Women and members of racial-ethnic minority groups do not appear to be underrepresented as editors in mainstream psychology. However, women continue to be underrepresented as senior authors, and members of racial-ethnic minority groups continue to be underrepresented as research participants. Furthermore, studies using predominately male or White samples (vs. female or racial-ethnic minority samples) were less likely to indicate participant gender or race-ethnicity in the title and marginally less likely to provide a rationale for including participants of only one social group, consistent with the notion that reporting tendencies within mainstream psychological research continue to reflect assumptions that men and Whites are more typical members of the category “human” than are women and racial-ethnic minorities. These findings indicate that mainstream psychology has not yet reached social equity and that efforts to increase diversity and decrease subtle biases should continue to be supported and funded.


Androcentrism Ethnocentrism Race Ethnicity Gender 



I wish to thank the following people for their invaluable comments on various drafts of the manuscript: Theresa Vescio, Stephanie Shields, Lynn Liben, Matthew Zawadzki, Jean Lamont, Elaine Dicicco, Brooke DiLeone, Kristine Schlenker, and the anonymous reviewers. I also wish to thank Jessica Matsick and Heather Rustici for their generous help coding articles.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyThe Pennsylvania State UniversityUniversity ParkUSA

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