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Commentary: Men must return to psychology

Sophomore+Samantha+Ruiz+writes+about+the+gender+breakdown+of+psychologists+and+how+the+field+has+switched+from+being+predominantly+composed+of+men+to+women.
Mari Kodama
Sophomore Samantha Ruiz writes about the gender breakdown of psychologists and how the field has switched from being predominantly composed of men to women.

Editor’s Note: This is a guest commentary. The opinions do not necessarily reflect the views of the editorial board.

A field that was once run by men has become a female-dominated occupation and there is an elephant in the room. Commentary articles and cover stories have been published that state, or question, whether or not men are now the minority gender in psychology.

Current statistics show the presence of male psychologists has declined over the past decade, technically making them the minority. The American Psychological Association reports that between 2007 and 2009, the number of female psychologists increased by 23.3%, while male psychologists decreased by 3.2%. From 2012 to 2013, the numbers changed drastically again; women increased by 8.8% and men went down by 10.2%. By 2021, according to Zippia, males made up only 35.2% of psychologist positions. There is little qualitative data yet as to why this number has dropped while the number of women has increased, but there is a possible theory; gender norms are why men are “disappearing” from psychology.

Men need to leave behind gender norms and reconsider the psychology field. Psychology benefits from diversity, not seclusion; the whole point is to better understand everyone and everything. If men were to disappear from the field completely, there would be an imbalance; women can only put themselves into the shoes of a man, but never the brain. Similarly, that is why female clients feel more comfortable with a female therapist because they understand each other in a way a male might not. Who knows, if men returned there could be an increase in males seeking psychological services. Women value sisterhood and find security in other women; brotherhood has a similar foundation. If enough men turn the other cheek, maybe the rest will follow and return to the psych field. It takes an army to move a nation.

The majority of psychology graduate programs do lack male presence, but I wouldn’t blame institutions for the ratio. If anything, men do not feel wanted in the industry, can’t handle the fact the field has become female-dominant, or simply have moved on to conquer other occupations as their own. Psychology is not gatekept. There is no longer an institutional barrier sitting between psychologists and gender, so what is it that turns them away? Perhaps the stereotypical belief that masculinity and femininity are like oil and water, never able to mix, is affecting the number of men in psych. Is it possible that men are self-sabotaging their careers in psych because women have reshaped psychology to embrace what people see as feminist qualities?

The statistics on gender and psychologists show males made the majority in the past, considering psychology centered itself around men “fixing” the minds and behaviors of independent women for centuries. One could argue that women would have made up a larger percentage ages ago if it wasn’t for the fact that we weren’t taken seriously in the profession until the late 1960s with the second wave of feminism. It makes sense as to why there is a heightened awareness of the decline of male psychologists; they once made up the entire population. Women have adopted the stereotype of being more open about their emotions, while men tend to be straightforward and unemotional. Men obey their gender roles, just as women did or do, and it is working against them. Women might have reshaped psychology around the feminine quality of nurturing, but that shouldn’t discourage a man from entering the field. Why are men allowing their socioemotional expectations to control their passion for psych? It isn’t a matter of who can take over what, but how well we can work together. Psychology is not a “girl” profession; it is anyone’s. 

Just as women are turning the tables, men too can make a comeback in psychology. There will never be a “fair” percentage, one side will always have more than the other, but that does not mean the lesser should remove itself from the picture entirely. If men feel left out then they should take action to get involved. No one can change the ratio other than themselves. Last time I checked, psychology belongs to everyone. A career only becomes gendered if you allow it.

Samantha Ruiz (she/her)  is a sophomore journalism major. Contact her at [email protected].

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    MattDec 9, 2023 at 9:39 am

    Psychology has a sampling problem when it comes to its current body of research especially male populations. It is indeed of great public interest to understand what drives criminals. A lengthy inquiry has been made towards that end. However and almost in a spiteful manner that same body of research is being used as a social and political weapon. It is being used by the same movement that has said the “personal is political” and the preferred weapon of choice used to paint ALL men in various shades of negative conditions. Is it to anyone’s wonder that men now avoid such a profession then that paints them not just individuals with problems but the actual problem to be solved?

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