The Mary Whiton Calkins Undergraduate Award

The Mary Whiton Calkins Undergraduate Award is granted annually to an academically outstanding undergraduate student in psychology and philosophy.

Mary Whiton Calkins

Mary Whiton Calkins, an early American psychologist and philosopher, was among the first generation of women to enter into psychology at the turn of the 20th century. Before 1900 graduate studies for women was unprecedented; women could not officially register at Harvard.

Calkins fought for access to Harvard’s seminars and laboratories and was eventually granted guest status. In 1895, despite fulfilling all requirements and being considered one of the most skilled students in her field, Harvard refused to grant a degree to Mary Whiton Calkins because she was a woman.  

Inspired by the obstacles that Calkins’ faced in her education and career, a group of UBC psychology undergraduate students campaigned to establish an award in her name. The Mary Whiton Calkins Undergraduate Award recognizes and honours Calkins’ remarkable achievements as a pioneer of psychology.

Dr. Alan Kingstone, a professor in UBC’s department of psychology who worked with the students to establish the award says, “These students felt that founding the award was a significant first step in recognizing the groundwork Mary Whiton Calkins established in psychology and in gender equality.”

Eligibility requirements

  • The students must major in Psychology with a minor in Philosophy; major in Philosophy with a minor in Psychology; or double major in both Psychology and Philosophy.
  • Eligibility is evaluated on grades and records from the student’s most recent 30 percentage-graded credits.
  • The students may only receive the award once and it must be in their graduating year.
  • Recipients are asked for a short submission about how they relate to Calkins’ story in their own lives. The submission will be posted on the Department of Psychology’s website as a digital archive.

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