Outnumbered, but Meaningful: The Experience of Male Doctoral Students in Professional Psychology Training Programs

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Abstract

Recent estimates indicate that 25% of graduates earning a doctoral degree in psychology in 2009 were male, which is a decrease from 50% in 2003 and 80% in 1973 (American Psychological Association, 2011). Whether this decrease reflects a decline in enrollment, retention, or both, psychology’s gender composition has undergone a pendulum swing from underrepresentation of women in the 1970s to the present underrepresentation of men. Although this shift may have affected the training of men, little is known about how this discrepancy affects men’s experiences of graduate training in psychology. Consensual Qualitative Research-Modified (CQR-M) was used to explore the experiences and perspectives of male professional psychology doctoral students. Participants (N = 255) reported awareness of being outnumbered, as well as perceived advantages (e.g., heightened competitiveness for predoctoral internships and jobs) and disadvantages (e.g., feeling stigmatized, scrutinized, and unsupported by peers and trainers). Participants offered encouragement and advised men interested in professional psychology to increase their self-awareness around male privilege and to carefully select training programs based on cost and demographics. Despite perceived disadvantages, most participants were content with their career choice. Implications for recruitment, retention, and training are discussed.

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