“Half the Human Experience” by Janet Hyde essay

“Half the Human Experience: The Psychology of Women” by Janet Hyde is a well-written and coercive study of undergraduate psychology of women course because they book is easily understandable and rises the most painful moments of women’s life and experiences. The book is devoted to examining and explaining not only racial, gender and sexual experiences and discrimination of women, but also it sheds life women diseases and emotional disturbances. The book is a combination of author’s personal knowledge and experiences along and it is author’s clear writing style make the book successful and interesting for everybody.

The positive moment is that Hyde highlights the latest issues associated with moral development, women emotions, aggressive behavior, contraception and parental leaves. It is necessary to note that Hyde’s examples and researches significantly contribute the field of psychology. First chapters of the book are used to provide examples. Both chapter 1 “Sex Bias and Research” and chapter 2 “Theoretical Perspectives” provide information about core psychological principles and aspects for those who have little or no background in psychological studies.

Actually, Hyde pays attention to Bem’s Gender Schema Theory in such a way introducing the concept of feminism. Hyde describes feminism as a “rich, articulated theoretical base”. (Hyde, 68) In “Gender Stereotypes and Gender Differences” she discusses real and artificial gender differences and stresses that “that gender similarities are more the rule than gender differences”. (Hyde, 112) Janet Hyde sheds devoted time to discuss racial and ethnical attitudes and peculiarities.

For example, she presents research about women’s ethnicity and race stating that it is better to involve well-articulated unit works rather than the add-multicultural-and-stir-approach. Nevertheless, the author many times refers to multicultural vision when speaking about racial and ethnical inequalities and opportunities. The author focuses mostly on race bias providing cultural critique of gender-based research. Moreover, she underlines the importance of studying women psychology. She writes that “one other reason for studying the psychology of women is that the female experience differs qualitatively from the male experience in some ways.

Only women experience menstruation, pregnancy, childbirth, and breastfeeding”. (Hyde, 3) However, pregnancy isn’t mentioned in the book content and, furthermore, no attention is paid to childbirth itself. Speaking about breastfeeding, she notes simply that breast may cause depressions and cancer. In chapters “Breast Cancer” and “Women and HIV” Hyde writes about menopause and menstruation, though it may cause wrong impression among young women who should be taught that menopause and menstruation are normal life events, not illnesses.

It is necessary to outline that Hyde highlights the topics of both motherhood and fatherhood, though fatherhood is paid more attention, whereas speaking about motherhood the author writes simply about voluntary childlessness and motherhood mandate. She admits: “With the current deemphasis on fertility, careers for women are much more viable alternatives than they formerly were”. (Hyde, 483) Certainly, the author is right when noting that women have fewer children nowadays and that most women tend to be tender mothers, whereas fewer women tend to devote the whole time to achieving career goals.

Therefore, the author loses an excellent opportunity to discuss highly stereotypes women experiences from scientific and feminist point of view because she omits in her study the mentioned topics of childbirth, motherhood and pregnancy. It is known that women are strongly affected by those issues and it should be better to pay thorough attention to them. Nevertheless, Hyde has done a good job in teaching young women about family values, career choices and gender roles and differences.

Further, the author has succeeded in preparing women for the world of work, for family life, for being mothers and for dealing for dealing with opposite sex. However, in chapter “Psychology of Men” she highlights the mentioned issues from male perspective instead of female. Nonetheless, Hyde thinks that women should be aware of their choices and about what to expect from future. Finally, Hyde pays proper attention to normal female development in chapter “From Infancy to Old Age: Development Across the Lifespan”. The author tends to make discussion manageable and topics pushed out.

Firstly, she provides introduction to female development admitting menstruation and menopause as the most crucial events if women’s health. Hyde argues that childbirth and pregnancy aren’t normative. Also she includes discussion of women’s experiences, whereas the author doesn’t discuss adequately women’s family roles and men’s attitudes towards women’s work and role. Despite certain shortcomings, the book provides well-organized and coherent study of a matter of interest. Hyde’s writing style, personal experiences and appeal to feminist outlook make the book impressive, vivid and interesting.

The paper provides not only theoretical framework for women’s psychology, it also provides recommendations and advises for women. The author tends to make women think that are allowed to make choices and to decide what is better for their lives. Women should realize, according to Hyde, they are equal members of society and they should struggle for equal family and career opportunities as well. Hyde is very persuasive in defending position that women should be aware of their psychological peculiarities. Nowadays, Hyde, writes, women represent not only cultural diversity, but also diversity in goals, desires and values.

Feminism doesn’t teach young women to become man-like, instead it teaches to become independent, confident and firm of purpose. They must be aware of every process taking place within and outside their body. Nevertheless, it would be interesting to ask the author about psychological peculiarities, emotions and anxieties when bearing a child. Also it is interesting to know more about male’s attitudes about gender differences and discrimination.


Hyde, Janet Shibley. (2003). Half the Human Experience: The Psychology of Women. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.