Vocational Psychology of Women and People of Color Women and people of color continue to be overrepresented in low status, low paying careers. Despite significant advancements in the labor force (for example, almost half of those employed in management and professional occupations are women), women are vastly overrepresented in fields such as nursing, teaching, child-care and administrative support (U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2014). The circumscription of women and people of color into occupations that may underutilize their abilities represents a significant loss of human capital and potential. Our work focuses on advancing theoretical knowledge regarding the variables that contribute to the vocational underachievement of women and people of color, nationally and internationally. Moreover, we examine how plans for combining work and family and the cultural construction of motherhood correlate with women's selection of low-paid, low-status careers. Finally, our research advances knowledge regarding how women manage work and family in the United States, South Korea and Israel.
Domestic Violence and Dating Violence Currently, we are working to evaluate a theory-based online intervention to educate students about dating violence and improve bystander responses to incidents of dating abuse. Dating violence, i.e., the use or threat of physical force, coercion into sexual activities, verbal denigration, and social isolation within a relationship, occurs frequently among college students with between 16% and 50% of college women reporting experiences of dating violence prior to graduation (Murray & Kardatzke, 2007). Dating violence has negative effects on the mental health, physical health, and academic functioning of victims with some victims experiencing anxiety, depression, alcohol or drug abuse, and eating disorders; Wekerle & Tanaka, 2010; Wolitzky-Taylor et al., 2008). We are testing an intervention to increase knowledge of warning signs of dating violence, reduce attitudes of acceptance of dating violence, and improve relationship exiting skills.
Death, Dying and Grieving
Our work focuses on education about grieving and communication about end-of-life issues. Many psychologists, physicians and medical students have not received adequate training regarding how to communicate about end-of-life issues with their clients/patients (Erickson, Blackhall, Brashers, & Varhegyi, 2015; Institure of Medicine of the Academies, 2014). We are engaged in a meta-analysis to identify best practices used to educate health care professionals regarding communication about end-of-life issues. In addition, we have developed an online intervention to educate college students about how to communicate with grieving peers. Furthermore, we are creating an online intervention to educate graduate students about grief and grief counseling. In the field of thanatology, I also am interested in studying post-traumatic growth after grieving, disenfranchised grieving, and end-of-life care-taking.