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Between Voice and Silence

Between Voice and Silence

Women and Girls, Race and Relationship

Jill McLean Taylor, Carol Gilligan, Amy M. Sullivan

ISBN 9780674068803

Publication date: 10/15/1997

More than any other psychologist, Carol Gilligan has helped us to hear girls' voices just when they seem to be blurring and fading or becoming disruptive during the passage into womanhood. When adolescent girls--once assured and resilient--silence or censor themselves to maintain relationships, they often become depressed, and develop eating disorders or other psychological problems. But when adolescent girls remain outspoken it is often difficult for others to stay in relationship with them, leading girls to be excluded or labeled as troublemakers. If this is true in an affluent suburban setting, where much of the groundbreaking research took place, what of girls from poor and working-class families, what of fading womanhood amid issues of class and race? And how might these issues affect the researchers themselves? In Between Voice and Silence Taylor, Gilligan, and Sullivan grapple with these questions. The result is a deeper and richer appreciation of girls' development and women's psychological health.

In an urban public school, among girls from diverse cultural backgrounds--African American, Hispanic, Portuguese, and white--and poor and working-class families, the authors sought a key to the relationship between risk, resistance, and girls' psychological development and health. Specifically, they found cultural differences that affect girls' coming of age in this country. In Between Voice and Silence, the story of the study parallels another, that of African American, Hispanic, and white women who gathered to examine their own differences and to learn how to avoid perpetuating past divisions among women. Together, these two stories reveal an intergenerational struggle to develop relationships between and among women and to hold and respect difference.


  • This enlightening book focuses on the lives of 26 girls as they struggle to overcome a range of obstacles in their family and school lives...This book [shows] the importance of sustained, accepting relationships with women in order for girls to have opportunities to speak freely, sort through complex issues in their lives, and feel understood...The book's strengths include its interdisciplinary approach in which the authors, speaking as essayists, story writers, and cultural critics as well as social researchers, often draw on the voices of women of color (along with their daughters and other girls)...They bring a more sophisticated approach to listening into psychological inquiry, one which explicitly attends to cultural and ethnic biases.

    —Donna Eder, American Journal of Sociology


  • Jill McLean Taylor was Professor Emeritus of Women’s and Gender Studies at Simmons College.
  • Carol Gilligan is University Professor at the New York University School of Law.
  • Amy M. Sullivan is Associate Director of Education Research at The Academy and Assistant Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, and Director for Medical Education Research at the Carl J. Shapiro Institute for Education and Research at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.

Book Details

  • 267 pages
  • 6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches
  • Harvard University Press