What We Look For is What We Find

The purpose of this paper is to examine epistemological connections between the words used by psychologists, the way words influence what methodology we use, and how methods influence our beliefs about causality and construct phenomena regarded a psychological "facts." These processes are considered in terms of a personal and historical perspective gained from nearly forty years of studying the psychology of women and gender. This paper focuses the history of the distinction between "sex" and "gender" and the continued attention of researchers to the question of whether sex/gender differences exist. It argues that the issue continues to be researched because of the relative absence of sociostructural variables such as status and power from most psychological discourse and the current empirical focus of many feminist psychologists in the United States. I also argue that lack of attention to epistemology and to the connection between politics and scholarship has led to a definition of the psychology of women and/or gender that no longer attends to feminist theory and to a decline in socially activist scholarship. Women and men cannot be studied in isolation from other social constructions such as race/ethnicity, social class, sexual diversity, and cultural difference. Such synthesis will be difficult without a return to concerns about epistemology and question generation that are rarely addressed in U. S. feminist psychology today.
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