Office: Bldg 2 Rm 201 Doheny
Pamela Gist - PhD
Department Chair, Professor, Psychology, Traditional Undergraduate Programs, Doheny Campus
PhD, Social Psychology, University of Michigan
MA, Social Psychology, University of Michigan
BGS, Psychology and Computer Science, Gonzaga University
Growing up, I was highly sensitive to and bothered by the prejudice I observed in myself and others. I don’t know why (childhood bullying? my sense of being an outsider? genetics? a particularly good teacher?). I applied to graduate school because I wanted to rid the world of prejudice. I settled for understanding stereotypes and prejudice and making what differences I could: in my research, my teaching, my relationships, and the way I live my life.
As a White professional, I try to use my significant privilege to empower others. I am continually finding new blind spots, new areas of needed growth. As a pansexual older cisgender woman and mother of Autistic children, I experience homophobia, ageism, sexism, and other forms of prejudice. I use my minoritized identities to help me connect with other minoritized communities and help me be a better ally.
With the Black Lives Matter movement gaining momentum, it is tempting to think that diversity work is more relevant now than ever. But it’s not. The challenges minoritized communities and individuals experience do not go away when the television cameras turn aside. They are not worsened when the cameras are on (except for the potential of increased trauma from the images themselves ceaselessly repeating). This work is always needed, always relevant, always timely.
I spent 10 years as an undergraduate, changing majors often, and changing institutions almost as frequently. In my first three years, I was a full-time student; the next seven I worked full time and attended school at night. I was a successful senior systems analyst (computer programmer) with Bank of America when I applied to graduate school. My parents were horrified (why would I give up a good paying job to become “overeducated”?)! I was the first in my family to attend graduate school. It was one of the most challenging, fulfilling, and fun times of my life. As a National Science Foundation graduate fellow, I earned my Master’s and PhD in Social Psychology at the University of Michigan, focusing on stereotypes and prejudice.
At The Mount
In 1995, I joined the Mount’s faculty as an Assistant Professor, after a year in a visiting professor position at the University of Maine at Farmington. Mount Saint Mary’s was my dream job, because of its social justice orientation, small, dedicated faculty community, and extraordinary students. In my second year, I was appointed Psychology Department Chair. I was still learning how to teach and had no idea how to lead (cue Imposter Syndrome!). One of the reasons I left BofA was that my next step was management, something I wanted nothing to do with. Apparently, my wishes in this matter weren’t important. Those early years were a trial by fire, but I had amazing colleagues, the absolute best students, and the best mentor anyone could ask for, so it was all worth it. After 17 years, off and on, as Department Chair, I was appointed to a Dean position for five years. I loved being able to help more students, finding ways to unblock systemic barriers to their success. I am now happy to be back as Department Chair in this talented, generous, nurturing department.
Research Topics of Interest
My Inequities and Interventions Research Lab conducts research focused on understanding societal inequities and developing interventions to make a difference. Although the variety of topics may look unconnected, each research project falls under this overarching theme. My broad areas of interest are:
- Stereotypes and Prejudice
- Body Image
- Sex Trafficking
- Juror Decision Making
- Teaching and Learning
Courses Taught at The Mount
Today I most often teach:
- Psychology of Prejudice
- Introduction to Psychology, and
- Research Apprenticeship,
although over the years I have taught a wider variety of courses.
I teach Psychology of Prejudice (as opposed to the Psychology of Racism, Psychology of Sexism, Psychology of Ageism, etc.) because all prejudices operate with similar dynamics. That’s not to say that all prejudice is equal or the same. There are differences between prejudices, and some are more oppressive than others. However, comparing experiences of oppression, in an “oppression Olympics” serves nobody except those who maintain their power by dividing minoritized communities. Understanding how prejudice operates and how our prejudices are used to separate us can help us unite across differences and fight back.
Wittenbrink, B., Hilton, J. L, & Gist, P. L. (1998). In search of similarity: Stereotypes as naive theories in social categorization. Social Cognition, 16(1), 31–55.
Wittenbrink, B., Gist, P. L., & Hilton, J. L. (1997). Structural properties of stereotypic knowledge and their influences on the construal of social situations. Journal of Personality & Social Psychology, 72(3), 526–543.