A Gendered Prestige: The Powers at Play When Doing Psychology with Ink Blots/Statistics

  • Katherine HubbardEmail author
  • Natasha Bharj
Part of the Palgrave Studies in the Theory and History of Psychology book series (PSTHP)


In the history of Psychology, women and the Rorschach ink blot test have had some surprising commonalities; both have been constructed as unscientific, emotional, and invalid. In this chapter we explore the history of women’s involvement with the Rorschach, and demonstrate how the conceptualization of legitimate science has negated women’s contributions in revealing ways. In particular, we will correspond this history with the related trajectory of the use of statistics in Psychology and examine key moments within this history where women in Psychology, the Rorschach, and statistics, have come into contact. In doing so we distinguish between Psychology the discipline and psychology the subject matter (see Richards, 2002), but play with this distinction by making the discipline itself the subject matter under examination. By historically contextualizing Psychology and considering the feminist ramifications of its history, it is possible to shine a light on how Psychology has constructed itself as a legitimate science. Our goal is not to locate legitimacy and subjectivity, since these concepts can be applied to all parts of psychological history and science. Instead, by utilizing a Science and Technology Studies perspective we are able to examine how attributions of subjectivity are strategically applied to de/legitimize certain people and certain knowledge. Entrenched within such explorations of gender, scientific legitimacy, and construction of knowledge, is power. Therefore, this chapter will provide a short analysis of the power dynamics at play within these histories and highlight the historically gendered nature of prestige within Psychology.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of SociologyUniversity of SurreyGuildfordUK
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyUniversity of KansasLawrenceUSA

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