“Eminent Women in Psychology” by Martha E. Bernal

Category: Culture
Date added
2021/04/29
Pages:  3
Words:  983
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Over the course of history women have been defying the social norms of society and have flourish in their ability to thrive and excide to greater things. The power women have gained through every obstacle given to them has inspired many more to follow their dreams. Being a woman is hard enough in a man’s world but being a Mexican-American woman comes with a greeter challenge.

Living in a world where being different causes racial discrimination, you have to navigate a world where being too Mexican or white can be a problem. A famous Mexican-American women who defied everyone was, Marth E. Bernal. I chose her as my historical figure because I became interested in her dedication to helping minorities achieve their higher education and her Latina background.

According to the autobiography, Models of achievement: Eminent women in psychology by Martha E. Bernal (1988), her life story begins on April 13, 1931, in San Antonio Texas. She was born to Alicia and Enrique de Bernal. Her parents had migrated to the United States as pollical refugees during the 1920s when the Mexican revolution was occurring. I did learn that her parents meet in an English class while they were working on their citizenship exam. Her upbringing was very traditional in the sense that both of her parents families had strong roots to their Mexican traditions.

As a Mexican-American woman, Bernal was immersed in a bicultural setting. Bernal did not grow up in San Antonio, but rather in El Paso, Texas. Growing up in a border city must have been a culture hub for Mexican traditions, being so close Mexico. This gave her the ability to navigate through two different cultures but also allowing her to see things through a different lens.

Towards the end on the 1930s, Bernal stated school in El Paso, where she quickly realized that speaking Spanish was a negative thing resulting in punishment. From a young age she was impacted by challenges that came with her identity. She understood that society only approved of what they believed was appreciate, disapproving her language and heritage.

Martha E. Bernal faced many challenges in her life, which included racism, sexism, and social norms. According to the book, Encyclopedia of counseling by Stephen Quintana, Bernal’s school experience was significant since she experiences discrimination against her Mexican heritage and her peers. In kindergarten she learned that speaking her native tongue would be punished and frown upon by teachers and administration. This makes it symbolic because from a young age she had to fight for what she wanted and fight to have her voice heard. This type of social discrimination put them in a type of second-class status from her Anglo peers.

The pain and disturbing memories of growing up in El Paso, stayed with her all her life. Her early experience with discrimination leads her to internalize some racism which she mentions she realized when doing research. She eventually had to work through them to take that from her research.

Bernal was introduced to sexism from a young age, due to the social norms that came from being raced in a very traditional house hold. After finishing her high school education, she was ready to focus in higher education. Her aspirations and dreams were confronted with the traditional social norms that said a Mexican women’s roles were to take care of her husband and the household.

Having to deal with two different cultures that follow different values created a problem in her parents traditions. Although her mother and sister were supportive of perusing high education, her father was much hesitant in supporting her, but he eventually changed his mind. Her drive to higher education came from an experience she recalls, where a teacher told her and her sisters to stay away from hard classes like math (1988).

Bernal realized that the lack of encouragement towards girls was the reason many were dropping out and not pursuing more. The lack of encourage did not face Bernal at all she would eventually earn her Master of Arts from Syracuse University in 1955 and in 1962 she becomes the first Latina to earn a PhD in clinal psychology.

In the article, Profile of Martha E. Bernal by Meghan George, Bernal has excessed the expectation of what her culture believed her to have and be. She not only has to challenge the idea that education was a waste of time for women, but also the insulation that the only job meant for women was to bear children and be a good house wife. After receiving her PhD in clinical psychology, she realized that her interest was on the issues of minority health and multicultural treatment. While focusing on this research she realized she was unconsciously racist in her work, which lead her to change her focus to cultural and ethnic psychology.

Martha E. Bernal went through many obstacles and challenges while trying to obtain her degree. Having reached an elite statue through her education we would assume that the discrimination and sexism would have ended there. Truth was that some of these obstacles kept influencing her in her career. As she realized her status came with a kind of power, she took it upon herself to get minorities into elite positions.

In the obituary article, Martha E. Bernal (1931-2001), by Melba Vazquez, I learned that one of her major contributions to the psychology field was her work with childhood psychopathology. Through the years she ginned recognition and received honors and awards through her contributions as a woman of color. Her with research on ethnic minorities also got recognized. Her contributions not only open doors for women, but specially Latinas and other women of color to receive scholarships to better their education. Bernal was known to participate in activities that included cooking, gardening, hiking, and traveling. She loved sharing her passion with close friends, family and specially her long-term partner Betty Tunstall.

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"Eminent Women in Psychology" by Martha E. Bernal. (2021, Apr 29). Retrieved from https://papersowl.com/examples/eminent-women-in-psychology-by-martha-e-bernal/

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