Carol Gilligan is the only child of a lawyer William Friedman and nursery school teacher Mabel Kaminez. Born on November 28th, 1936, brought up by Jewish family in New York City, she is a notable American feminist, ethicist and psychologist. She acquired her BA in English literature from Swarthmore College and Master’s degree in clinical psychology from Radcliffe college, her academic accomplishments does not end here as she obtained her Ph.D in sociology from the prestigious Harvard university.
She started off her career as a teacher in 1967 at Harvard university where she got an opportunity to teach at Harvard Graduate School of Education. She resigned from Harvard in 2002 to start her tenure as a full-fledged professor in New York University at their school of law and school of education. She gained fame while working with Lawrence Kohlberg on ethical relationships and ethical community.
She studied conducted research on women’s psychology and wrote a book based on it and entitled it as “In a different voice” published by Harvard university press in 1982. She also wrote her first novel Kyra in 2008. Carol Gilligan’s work on the theory of moral development holds an important place in the explanation of real life dilemmas. The implication of this theory is based on the fact that there are many important factors than justice which contributes to the development of a human being. She was the first psychologist who considered gender differences in the moral development. She considered the difference in mental processes of men and women as a variable that effects the moral development based on the difference of genders. Carol Gilligan observed that young girls are more inclined towards love, care, affection and meaningful relationships with other humans whereas young boys are more focused on justice. She suggested that this difference in feelings and values is due to different gender makeup and the relationship enjoyed by the person with his or her mother. She also observed that a woman has three transition phases in which she recognizes and adapts to her roles and responsibilities. At the first stage when she is growing up as a child she works for her own survival which is termed as selfishness by Gilligan, at the second stage she starts to become responsible as a young adult caring more for others and becoming less self-centered, this is the stage where she learns to equate goodness with sacrificing and then the final stage is where she takes on the responsibilities of the consequences of her actions achieving the level of self-acceptance. Her works on moral development influenced a lot of other psychologists who opted to work on moral development, which served as a positive outcome of Carol Gilligan’s psychological works and observations on morality or moral development.
She is currently associated as a professor with New York University as well as serving at University of Cambridge as a visiting professor. She earned a name in Time Magazine’s Influential Americans with 25 other people in 1996. Recently, she has been awarded with Mr. L Award 4th period in 2013.