Jessica Good '06
What are you up to now?
Currently I am an Associate Professor of Psychology and Gender & Sexuality Studies at Davidson College. After graduating from W&L, I went to Rutgers University to get my PhD in Social Psychology. I moved to Davidson in 2011 and have been here ever since. As a social psychologist, I research ambivalent sexism, strategies for confronting sexism and racism (and recently heterosexism), ways to mitigate gender-based stereotype threat in virtual reality (collaboration with a computer scientist), and the impact of instructors' diversity philosophies on the STEM performance of women and underrepresented racial minority students.
Why did you decide to minor in WGSS?
I had never taken any classwork on gender or sexuality prior to coming to W&L. I took Intro Women's Studies with Theresa Braunschneider during Spring term of my freshman year, and I was hooked. It was one of the most interdisciplinary courses I ever took (this was before interdisciplinarity was such a huge buzzword). I had always believed strongly in reproductive rights, but didn't realize what a feminist I was until I started reading Ms. Magazine and doing projects for that class. I couldn't get enough. I remember my senior capstone on marriage was incredibly interesting too and it definitely impacted the way I approached my marriage a year later.
Do you find that your preparation in WGSS helped you do what you are doing now?
YES. Going to a PhD program in psychology, it was my psychology coursework that directly prepared me for graduate school. However, the mindset and the broader background in gender studies helped me to frame my research questions and to work well with other students and faculty who were interested in aspects of gender. Now, my experience as a Women's Studies minor definitely impacts the way I teach my courses. I am currently teaching a seminar on the psychology of prejudice and I always think back to that Intro Women's Studies class and capstone marriage class, for examples of how I want to structure discussion in my class, how I want to promote a culture of free and critical inquiry.
Any advice for current students?
Read as much as you can. It is such a luxury to read carefully chosen, interesting texts and be able to spend time thinking and reflecting on them. Learn as much as you can about gender, sexuality, social identity, cultural variation, and don't discard it as irrelevant to whatever profession you choose to pursue. That learning will be vital to the way you think about your life and move through the world around you.