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The proper APA Style reference for this manuscript is:
SANDERS, S. J. (2002). Leta Stetter Hollingworth. National Undergraduate Research Clearinghouse, 5. Available online at http://www.webclearinghouse.net/volume/. Retrieved September 28, 2023 .

Leta Stetter Hollingworth

Sponsored by: Brian Cronk (cronk@missouriwestern.edu)
Leta Hollingworth was a pioneer women. She was born in Daves County, Nebraska. She studied at the University of Nebraska were she recieved a Bachelors of Arts degree, and a State Teachers Certificate. She moved to New York with her husband, Henry Hollingworth, were she recieved her masters in psychology. She found a love for experimental psychology.

A pioneer woman in the field of psychology Leta was the oldest of three children, who were all girls. Mrs. Hollingworth was born in Daves County near the tow of Chadren in May in 1886. Her mother was very private and died after having her third child. Leta’s father was a cowboy, rancher, peddler, and trader who owned bars and entertainment halls. After the death of his wife he left his kids with their grand parents for the next ten years. He than remarried and the children came to live with him and their new stepmother in Valentine Nebraska. The new household had many problems with alcohol within it and the problems within the family were rising. During about age fourteen Hollingworth published a paper in the local newspaper around the same age that she was involved in academic achievements and writing an astonishing number of original poems, it was her way of escaping a home life filled with alcoholism, chaos, and cruelty. Hollingworth in 1902 graduated from Valentine High School, at the age of sixteen, she took her love of poetry to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln it was there when she quickly achieved a campus reputation in literature and creative writing and was designated Class Poet of the Class of 1906(Fagan). Hollingworth went to the University of Nebraska, during her stay at the University of Nebraska she meet her future husband, Henry Hollingworth. In which they became engaged. In 1906 she received her Bachelors of Arts degree, also with a State Teachers Certificate, in which she was qualified to teach English language and literature in Nebraska public high school. Even though she hoped for a career in writing she entered the teaching profession so she could give financial support to her two younger sisters (Miller). That fall of 1906 Hollingworth had a job as an assistant principle of a high school, school district No 6, Saline County. She taught at the high school for one year. Her second teaching position was that in a little larger town. While she was teaching she cared a lot of her students, she would counsel and talk to them about their daily life, she taught seven different subjects and served as the janitor. During her second year at this school her career abruptly ended. She left the school because her husband, Henry now could afford to bring her to New York and they married in December of 1908. So they left and move to New York. In New York City did not allow married women to teach. While in New York she tried to obtain financial aid for graduate study, but women were not eligible for fellowships and scholarships, so she was forced into what she considered as a drab existence of housework and dressmaking. The couple was able to save enough money to allow her to have enough money for tuition at Teachers College; while she was at the Teachers College she completed a master’s degree in psychology. Hollingworth found that she was interested in psychology. She became interested in experimental psychology while assisting her husband in an experiment. The experiment dealt with the effects of caffeine on mental and motor abilities. While she was studying her husband’s results she noticed that a women’s menstrual cycles had no effect on test performance. At this time in history women did not have much power or say so about many issues, and women’s inferior nature enjoyed wider acceptance than the belief that women are incapacitated each month by menstruation (Miller). This idea that many looked at as a incapacitation was known as “functional periodicity’. She wanted to investigate the validity of this functional periodicity so she tried to correlate task performance with onset of menses but she did not find a relationship. She thought that is seemed appropriate and desirable that women should investigate matters experimentally. She believed since the opportunity for training and research was open to women than what better way than for women to experiment (Hollingworth). She wanted to be the involved with the first of many works on the psychology of women. When she had completed the Ph.D. in 1916, she had published six scientific papers on the psychology of women. She was curious about women, and why they were regarded as inferior to men. What were the facts that supported this is what she was interested in. She read works written by James McKeen Cattell, Stanley Hall, and E.L. Thorndike, who was her advisor. She could not find any scientific data to support their claims. She was also interested about the women’s inferiority “hypothesis of greater male variability”, which was the belief that males were more variable than females and a superior sex. During this time Darwin’s theory of evolution was exerting a great deal of influence on the study of psychology, making Hollingworth more interested than ever before. Leta began her doctoral work in 1913, she published the first of several studies that eventually led to discrediting the variability hypothesis. Her book “ The Frequency of Amentia as Related to Sex” she reports that in it there were more feebleminded males than females. She says girl children remained in the care of their families whereas boys were institutionalized (Hollingworth). The variability hypothesis, the second study a lady by the name of Helen Montague accompanied her in analyzing the records of 2,0000 neonatal for variability in birth weight and length. They found that females were more variable in physical measurements at birth, with these findings; the philosophers quietly began to drop the issue of greater male variation. She also published a review of sex differences in mental traits in a Psychological Bulletin, with the variability hypothesis being soundly discredited. She systematically exposed the double standard of psychological investigations. She talked about and pointed out that psychologist condemned subjective judgment in science that they also “lapsed into conventional platitudes” when the make observations or opinions on differences of sex. Hollingworth had many aspirations to help counsel people on their life issues. While she counseled women it was based upon the myths outlined. Women were encouraged to accept their roles as primary caregivers for children and as homemakers; women were discouraged from being career-oriented or independent. Many counselors collaborated with society in maintaining the status quo. They had to deal with the women on forms being lower-status occupations (Kerr). The women’s movement began to change all of the inferiority of women. Women were encouraged to accept their roles as primary caregivers for children and as homemakers. Women were often discouraged from being career-oriented or independent. Many counselors collaborated with society in maintain the status quo.Before the United States entered World War I Hollingworth realized that students who score perfectly on an in-grade test couldn’t be differentiated from each other by it. Hollingworth worked with gifted children, and she liked to counsel them, her observations and discussions with the gifted children led her to take an active role in helping them with their academic, emotional and social problems. She discovered the problem among gifted children to be “multipotentiality” which means that having too many possibilities for academic and career goals and subsequent difficulty in decision-making (Hollingworth). She noticed that underachieving, highly gifted students, she also noticed the causes in boredom with school and poor relationships with teachers and peers (Hollingworth). She saw the barriers to achievement for gifted girls and she outlined them, she also saw the barriers and difficulties of being a minority-gifted child. She had many case studies and suggestions on how to work with the gifted. Counseling with the gifted student has to be child-centered. Despite the presence of many documents, test scores and records that place that child in certain areas of the gifted range. Despite the presence of teachers, family members, and administrators, that has definite opinions about that specific child. She also believed that a counselor had to look at the child’s problems, through the child’s eyes, this way the child, and not anyone else becomes the focus of the counseling and therapy process. Also Hollingworth thought it was very important for the counselor’s attitude toward the gifted client to be positive, constructive, and comfortable. Many times professionals working with gifted students either feel threatened or they are overly admiring. Those counselors who feel this way respond with suspicion, thinking a bright child shouldn’t need counseling. So many feel that they should test the child’s unusual skills and knowledge against their own, some counselors who are overawed are self-deprecating and uncomfortable with confrontation. Hollingworth was aware of how often the counseling process with gifted students points to the necessity of change in the family, school, and society, she believes that sometimes the burden of adjustment is entirely depended on the gifted child, she does not believe this should be the way it is (Stanley). Those within the family, the counselors, and others should be of assistance for the gifted child when periods of adjustment come around. Hollingworth was dealing with very highly gifted children, she did a five-year progress report on “child E” she worked in accordance with this particular child, and many gifted children with high IQ preferably 180 or higher on the Lewis Terman’s test. While working with Child E she says, E is a boy born on June 17, 1908, the occasion of first meeting with him was that a child of unusually superior intelligence was wanted for demonstration to a class of teachers studying the psychology and treatment of exceptional children. E’s past two teachers of the Horace Mann kindergarten proposed that E, was brought for this demonstration. This child had never in his life had a mental test previously he was 8 years and 4 months old, and his mental age was 15 years and 7 months with an IQ of 187 (Hollingworth). She found the IQ test to be certainly an underestimate in comparison with this child’s actual ability; he almost had unbelievable mental ability. From this Hollingworth saw an extremely clear need for above-level testing of unusually high IQ boys and girls. Hollingworth followed child E through out his life at age 18 she gave child E, the IER intelligence scale CAVD by E.L. Thorndike. Child E scored 2.9 standard deviations above the average college graduates in first-rate professional schools, ranking with the best minds revealed in any groups so far tested. The comparison groups were considerably older than E. The IER scale and the Thorndike Test were compared by Hollingworth and it surely rated child E in at least the top one quarter of one percent of college graduates. This proved Hollingworth accurate and led her to many more experiments on many other intelligence tests. Leta Hollingworth had many contributions that know exist in society today. She was a role model to many women, a scientist-practitioner, which debunked many myths about women; she was also a counselor to the gifted. Hollingworth made her mark on the counseling profession, and also in many peoples life’s. She was a great contributor who stood up for women and their beliefs.

Fagan, T. Contributions of Leta Hollingworth to school psychology. Reoeper,12,157-162.

Hollingworth,L. Differential Action upon the Sexes of Forces which tend to segregate the feebleminded. American Journal of Sociology,17, 35-37.

Hollingworth, L. Social devices for impelling women to bare and rear children. American Journal of Sociology, 22,19-29.

Hollingworth, L. Variability as Related to Sex differences in Achievement. American Journal of Sociology, 19, 510-530.

Hollingworth, L. Sex differences in mental traits.Psychological Bulletin,13, 377-384.

Kerr, B. Leta Hollingworth’s legacy to counseling and guidance. Roeper, 12, 178-182.

Miller, R. Leta Hollingworth: Pioneer Women of Psychology. Roeper, 12, 142-144.

Stanley, J. Leta Hollingworth’s Contributions to above-level testing of the gifted. Roeper,12, 162-168.

Submitted 11/20/2002 2:45:26 PM
Last Edited 11/20/2002 2:52:34 PM
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