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Psychology Major Presented Capstone Research at the Association for Women in Psychology National Conference

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Posted on Monday, June 6, 2016

A recent Westminster College graduate, Kierstin Barker ‘16, presented her psychology capstone research at the Association for Women in Psychology (AWP) National Conference in Pittsburgh, Pa.

According to their mission, AWP is a diverse feminist community of psychologists and allied professionals invested in the integration of personal, professional, and political power in the service of social justice.

Barker’s project, “Mothers’ and Fathers’ Gender Role Adherence and the Emotional Expressivity of their Sons and Daughters,” was conducted through a study of 100 Westminster College students.

“The faculty and students were very supportive by answering any questions I had and working with me endless hours to make this project a success,” said Barker.

Dr. Sherri Pataki, associate professor of psychology, aided Barker in developing the project.

Barker found that the more mothers and fathers adhered to traditional gender roles, the more they taught their sons and daughters to express emotions according to these gender roles.

“These roles could include encouraging sons to display more dominant emotions such as anger and discouraging vulnerable emotions such as sadness and fear, and encouraging daughters to display more vulnerable emotions such as sadness and fear,” said Barker.

“It was exciting to share my work with others who are passionate about research in the field of psychology, especially within the subject of gender roles,” said Barker. “It was also interesting to see what other work was being done in the field by students from different schools.”

Barker, Kittanning, Pa., is a daughter of Michael and Melissa Barker and a graduate of West Shamokin High School. Next fall, Barker will attend Chatham University, pursuing a Master of Science in counseling psychology.

For more information, contact Pataki at (724) 946-7361.