Florence Harriet Levin Denmark (born January 28, 1932) is an American psychologist and a past president of the American Psychological Association (APA). She is a pioneering female psychologist who has influenced the psychological sciences through her scholarly and academic accomplishments in both psychology and feminist movements. She has contributed to psychology in several ways, specifically in the field of psychology of women and human rights, both nationally and internationally. Since childhood, Denmark was academically successful. She received her PhD in social psychology from the University of Pennsylvania.
Denmark held academic teaching positions at several colleges, researching social psychology topics regarding women and their social inequalities. Her research has emphasized status and gender, prejudice, leadership and leadership styles, and women. Considered to be an important leader in the field, Denmark has actively focused on women’s issues, including helping and empowering disadvantaged women, dedicating herself to being an influential feminist leader.
In addition to her influential research and teaching positions, Denmark has been involved in several organizational pursuits. Denmark acted as chairperson for the first research conference geared towards women and psychological research. Further, she was a member and later president of the Association for Women in Psychology (AWP). Denmark also held the position of president for the New York State Psychological Association (NYSPA) and the American Psychological Association (APA).
Denmark was born in 1932 in Philadelphia to an attorney and a musician. Denmark grew up with an older sister and a significant extended family. She was actively involved during her adolescent years at Roxborough High School in Philadelphia. In 1948, she graduated as valedictorian of her high school class.
Following high school, She studied history and psychology as an undergraduate at the University of Pennsylvania and earned a PhD in psychology there as well. She was involved in undergraduate research and wrote an honor's thesis revolving around leadership and gender. Graduating with the first double undergraduate major with honors in 1952, she subsequently went on to continue her graduate studies at the University of Pennsylvania. Here she earned her PhD in Social Psychology in 1958. While she was pursuing her graduate degree, Florence married Stanley Denmark - an orthodontist - in 1953. After Denmark was awarded her PhD from the University of Pennsylvania, she moved to New York with her husband and they had three children: Valerie and twins, Pamela and Richard.
While living in New York, Denmark accepted an adjunct faculty position at Queens College of the City University of New York. With encouragement from the head of the Queens college psychology program, Denmark accepted a full-time faculty position at Hunter College in 1964. Here, Denmark continue to teach and conduct research until 1988, when she moved to Pace University and became the chair of the Department of Psychology.
Denmark was the 1980 president of the APA. She has also served as president of the New York State Psychological Association and the International Council of Psychologists. She holds a faculty appointment at Pace University and is on the board of directors for the Cummings Center for the History of Psychology at the University of Akron. She was previously on the faculty at Hunter College.
The Florence L. Denmark Award is awarded by the Psi Chi honor society to the nation's top faculty advisor. In 1987, she received the first APA Award for Distinguished Contributions to Education and Training in Psychology.
Denmark has made many contributions as well as earned many awards and honors in the field of psychology. Denmark was one of the founding members of the American Psychological Association Division 35. She has also been the president of many organizations, including the American Psychology Association Division 1 and Division 35, the International Council of Psychologists, the National Honor Society Psi Chi, the Easter Psychological Association and the New York State Psychological Association. She has been named Vice President of the New York Academy of Sciences and the International Organization of the Study of Group Venisons.
Including her many positions, Denmark has also written over 15 books, over 100 articles, and appeared on many talks and radio and television shows.
Her honors and recognition include membership in Phi Beta Theta, Psi Chi, Sigma Xi, and Phi Beta Kappa. Her publication, Psychology of Women: A Handbook of Issues and Theories was selected by the journal Choice as an academic book of excellence.
She has earned several awards from the APA, the New York State Psychological Association, the Organization for Professional Women, the Association for Women in Science, and the Association for Women in Psychology. Awards included are the Distinguished Contributions to Education and Training, Distinguished Contributions to the International Advancement of Psychology, Distinguished Contributions to Psychology in the Public Interest, as well as the APA Centennial Award for Sustained Contributions to the Public Interest Directorate in 1992. In 1991, she received the highest award offered by the Society for the Psychology of Women, the Carolyn Sherif Memorial Lecture Award. In 2002, Denmark was given the Distinguished Faculty Achievement Award from Dyson College of Pace University (Citation).
Denmark has made significant strides for the field of psychology in the areas of gender differences and feminism. In her article "Women and Psychology", Denmark explores the gender differences when working in psychology at an international level. She notes that while the gender gap has been lessened in recent years, there is still much room for improvement when it comes to sexism. In other studies, Denmark found that when it comes to roles of higher status, women are also sexist towards women. This, according to Denmark, may also be a symptom of being exposed to sexism and undervaluing of women.
While she has spoken on behalf of women and the feminism movement, she also worked towards defeating the gender bias toward participants in psychological studies. The gender bias in research may have produced inaccurate results in many studies. Denmark's work has helped to provide valid results. Denmark has also published "Guidelines for Avoiding Sexism in Psychological Research" with a few of her colleagues. In this work, Denmark and her colleagues lay out a series of problems that emerge as a result of sexism in experimental psychology. Then, they laid out examples of what the problems might have looked like in psychology studies, and they suggested ways to solve the problems. It is important that in research, the processes that are used to select participants and the processes used to analyze the data are equal when it comes to sexes. When sexism plays a part in these processes, there is a high likelihood that sex differences are not included in the results, which could greatly affect treatment options.