Prominent Women of Color in ABA Related Fields

All month long we are celebrating Women’s History Month because there are some incredible women that should be acknowledged for their bravery and trailblazing efforts. So many women before us paved the way. They had to do this at a time when women did not have the same legal rights as men in America. This list is just a few of the women that improved education and psychology. In ABA, we would not be advanced as we are without the educators and psychologists that came before us.



1. Mary McLeod Bethune

Mrs. Bethune was a child of slaves that became an educator, civil rights leader, and prominent figure in African American learning. Her inspiration comes from learning to read at school at 10 years old. Reading can open a child’s mind to countless and endless imaginings. She goes on to later study at Scotia Seminary to become a missionary, and after graduation her heart leads her to becoming a teacher. Dreaming big led to opening a school that would later become Bethune-Cookman University. She opened this school with $1.50 and five girls, but more importantly she had determination and purpose.


2. Martha Bernal

Dr. Bernal is the first Latina to obtain a Ph.D. in psychology in the United States. She understood the importance of her role as a minority in a professional space. She made contributions to child treatment, learning theory, and diversity research. She was not silent about injustice, not just racial injustice but injustice for the LBGTQ+ community as well. Dr. Bernal promoted the presence of minorities working in psychology.


3. Katherine Johnson

Her story was told in the sought after award-winning film Hidden Figures. She was a mathematician that made advancements in NASA spaceflights. These advancements helped send the first astronauts to the moon. She had to endure racism and sexism in order to make these achievements. Johnson retired from NASA in 1986 and later received numerous honors and awards. Hidden Figures can be found on Disney+ and we recommend watching it.






4. Mae Jemison

She became the first African-American woman to travel in space in 1992. She orbited the Earth on the space shuttle Endeavor. She attended Stanford University at the age of 16 where she studies chemical engineering and African-American studies. She also studies space and later applied to NASA. After returning to earth, she resigned from NASA and pursued her passions of being a business owner and a professor.







5. Mamie Phipps Clark

She and her husband were the first African-Americans to receive a doctoral degree from Columbia University in psychology. They later opened the first full-time child guidance center offering psychological services to families in the Harlem area. She was also a civil rights activist. They testified as witnesses in the famous Brown vs. Board of Education case that eventually led to desegregation in schools. She is a major inspiration for little girls that want to pursue careers in psychology related fields.


That’s just to name a few. Their stories of excellence continue to inspire and we hope it inspires you. Once you see someone that looks like you accomplishing goals similar to yours it makes a huge difference!


Until next time!


Resources/References:

https://www.apadivisions.org/division-35/about/heritage/martha-bernal-biography

https://www.cookman.edu/about_BCU/index.html

https://www.britannica.com/biography/Katherine-Johnson-mathematician

https://www.nasa.gov/audience/forstudents/k-4/stories/nasa-knows/who-was-katherine-johnson-k4

https://www.britannica.com/biography/Mae-Jemison

https://www.apa.org/pi/oema/resources/ethnicity-health/psychologists/clark

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