Jan Yoder was born in Reading, PA, and received her undergraduate degree in psychology from Gettysburg College in 1974 (cum laude) (Yoder, 2006). She earned her PhD in social psychology in 1979 at the State University of New York at Buffalo (Yoder, 2006).
The road to feminist psychology was a gradual one for Dr. Yoder and yet it is one she has contributed to substantially over the course of her career. In revisiting the cultural climate of academia early in her training, Dr. Yoder recalled few women students in college and the absence of a women’s studies course (Yoder, 2008). Male faculty preferred to mentor male students, whereas women students gravitated towards teaching or careers presumed to be family friendly (Yoder, 2008). Sexual harassment was an unfortunate part of her early career. She received unsolicited invitations to personal getaways and a faculty member once joked she was admitted because of her good looks. All of these experiences would inform and influence her research in feminist psychology and feminist theory (Yoder, 2008).
In 1977, Dr. Yoder was invited to work on Project Athena, a longitudinal study assessing women’s integration to the United States Military Academy at West Point (Yoder, 2008). She joined the team, but was unsatisfied with a stifling academic environment. Using her experience from the project, Dr. Yoder published a paper in the Journal of Social Issues on tokenism and marginalization, which would also become a research theme throughout her career (Yoder, 2008).
Diverse and robust research methods have been a hallmark of Dr. Yoder’s ongoing work (Yoder, 2008). Her experiments take place in the lab as well as the field, and have been heavily influenced by a variety of disciplines such as sociology and English literature. In thinking of her career development, Dr. Yoder considers the influence of colleagues and scholars such as bell hooks, Rhoda Unger, and Carolyn Sheriff to be critical. Along that vein, she encourages up and coming psychologists to seek mentors with similar research interests and learn as much as possible from them and other predecessors. Dr. Yoder also believes in the importance of professional networks and of reaching out, even to those who seem out of reach or significantly more advanced (Yoder, 2008).
Dr. Yoder is the author of “Women and Gender: Transforming Psychology”, a textbook for Psychology of Women courses, now in its second edition (Yoder, 2008). The text focuses on power, privilege, and the intersection of sexism and other forms of prejudice. Having taught Psychology of Women many times, Dr. Yoder believes this is where feminist psychology has made its greatest impact by challenging students ready acceptance of constructed gender roles (Yoder, 2008). She is also the current editor for Psychology of Women Quarterly (Yoder, 2006).
In the future, Dr. Yoder hopes for more research on women and families, as she feels the concept of balancing work and family for women is still an ambiguous one for the workplace (Yoder, 2008). Dr. Yoder was president of Division 35, Society for the Psychology of Women 2000-2001 (Yoder, 2006). She also served as editor of the Psychology of Women Newsletter 1994 – 1997 and as reviewer for numerous scholarly journals such as Gender & Society, American Psychologist, and Feminism and Psychology. She is a member of several professional organizations including: Society for the Psychological study of Social Issues (Fellow, 1993); Society for the Teaching of Psychology (Fellow, 2001); Society for the Psychological Study of Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Issues, Sociologists for Women in Society (Yoder, 2006).
Among her many awards and honors, Dr. Yoder received the following:
Teacher-Scholar Award Institute for Teaching and Learning, University of Akron (2008);
Heritage Award for Distinguished, Longstanding, and Substantial Contributions to Feminist Teaching from the APA Division 35, Society for the Psychology of Women (2006);
Sue Rosenberg Zalk Award from the APA Division 35, Society for the Psychology of Women (2010);
The Distinguished Teaching Award, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (1994); and
The Martine D. Meyer Award for Excellence in Teaching, from the College of Letters and Science University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (1996; Yoder, 2006).