Psychology's Feminist Voices
Women PastFeminist PresenceAbout Us

Twitter YouTube Follow us on Facebook Changing Face of Feminist Psychology: watch the video


Lisa Rubin


Training Location(s):

Ph.D., Arizona State University, (2005)

M.A., Arizona State University, (2001)

A.B., Lafayette College, (1997)

Primary Affiliation(s):

The New School for Social Research, (2006-Present)

Media Links:
Professional Websites

Lisa Rubin at The New School for Social Research

Women's Mental Health Consortium


Psychology's Feminist Voices Interview Transcript


Oral History Excerpt on YouTube: Feminist Identity

Oral History Excerpt on YouTube: Feminism and Health Psychology

Oral History Excerpt on YouTube: Experiences as a Feminist Psychologist



Career Focus: Eating disorders; pregnancy; psycho-oncology; clinical psychology; reproductive technologies; resistance.


Lisa Rubin remembers her feminist identity developing, in part, as a result of working on a high school English project. For this project, each student was asked to become an “expert” on some aspect of New York City and then present on the topic (on the street with a bullhorn). While searching for her topic, Rubin came across the Harvey Milk School, a high school whose mission was to help at-risk youth, primarily gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered teens. Although now a public high school, at the time it was a two-room school housed in the Hetrick-Martin Institute.  Rubin was struck by the sense of inclusion this school provided for a marginalized population, and was eager to learn more. As she noted: "Many of the kids who were at the school were homeless, and had gotten there from pretty traumatic pasts, to arriving at the school. They faced a lot of teasing, abuse and violence. I just became really concerned and interested and I was thinking this was going to be my project. The school did a did a great job with education and outreach. They had comic books that made difficult topics accessible, including suicide,  violence, and other mental health concerns. So in some ways that was both my introduction to psychology at a youngish age, and also to thinking about mental health in relation to issues of discrimination, marginalization and sexual identity." At an early age, Rubin recognized and valued the school as a safe space where teens could express themselves without fear of being judged. 


Given her early attunement to issues of discrimination and marginalization, Rubin soon discovered feminism and became an advocate for gender equality. While an undergraduate at Lafayette College in Pennsylvania, Rubin joined a campus woman’s group, the Association for Lafayette Women. In her sophomore year, while debating which major to pursue, Rubin contacted the head of the psychology department, Susan Basow, who did research on gender in psychology. Rubin clicked with Basow instantly and requested to work with her on an undergraduate thesis. Her thesis was an experimental study looking at feminist consciousness-raising and body satisfaction in women. This was a time when eating disorders were a highly salient topic, but there was little attention given to protective factors and women’s resiliency. In doing her thesis work, as well as through summer research positions, Rubin discovered that she truly enjoyed the intellectual and creative aspects of research, and wanted to continue doing this kind of work in graduate school.


While she knew she wanted to continue doing explicitly feminist work, Rubin was also very interested in clinical psychology. It was important to her to find a graduate program and faculty members that could bring these two worlds together. After thoroughly exploring her options, Rubin applied for a select number of clinical graduate programs before being accepted to Arizona State University. Rubin knew that she would have plenty of strong feminist support for her work there, as feminist psychologist Nancy Felipe Russo was a member of the faculty.


During her time at Arizona State, Rubin enjoyed the freedom of being able to take classes outside of the psychology department. This came in handy when she was doing her master’s thesis and wanted to learn more about qualitative research, which was only briefly surveyed in her psychology courses. Her interest in qualitative research was initially pragmatic, stemming from her interest in using focus groups to investigate feminist embodiment. But as her training in qualitative research began to merge with her growing interest in feminist perspectives on epistemology, she came to appreciate qualitative methods as an important tool for asking different kinds of questions within psychology, which she saw as complementary to her more traditional training in research methods. In the focus groups she conducted, women started talking about their self-image and how pregnancy changed the way they saw and experienced their bodies. This spurred Rubin’s dissertation research, a mixed methods study of pregnancy and embodiment.


After completing both her Master’s and Ph.D. in this area, Rubin went on to do postdoctoral work at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York, where she did work in psycho-oncology. It was here that she asked critical questions about the link between gender ideologies and breast reconstruction following mastectomy, and developed interests in repro-genetic technologies. More recently, Rubin has undertaken additional postgraduate clinical training at the Women’s Therapy Centre Institute, while also on the tenure track at The New School for Social Research. Rubin is the Assistant Director of Clinical Training at The New School, a member of the Women’s Mental Health Consortium, the chair of the Reproductive Issues Committee of APA's Division 35 (Society for the Psychology of Women) and a member of APA Division 38 (Health Psychology).


Rubin’s research moves across boundaries. She is trained as a clinical psychologist, with interests in social and health psychology. She also seeks out interdisciplinary collaborations with colleagues in medicine, anthropology, and bioethics. Yet cutting across all of these areas is her feminist perspective. At the core of all of her research Rubin tries to draw attention to a single theme: resistance. Rubin is interested in the everyday ways that women, in particular, resist, subvert, and otherwise negotiate normalized representations and expectations of gendered embodiment. How do women resist internalization of the thin ideal? How do women challenge views of breast cancer as threatening to feminine identity? When asked to comment on her experience of being a feminist in psychology, Rubin sums it up this way: "I can’t imagine being a psychologist in any other way."


By Meghan George (2012)

To cite this article, see Credits

Selected Works:


Hoyt, M. A. & Rubin, L. R. (2012), Gender representation of cancer patients in medical treatment and psychosocial survivorship research. Cancer. doi: 10.1002/cncr.27432 


Hoyt, M. A., Rubin, L. R., Nemeroff, C., Lee, J., Huebner, D., & Proescholdbell, R. (2011). HIV/AIDS – related institutional mistrust among multi-ethnic men who have sex with men: Effects on HIV testing and risk behaviors. Health Psychology, 31(3), 269-277.


Rubin, L. R., Fitts, M. L., & Becker, A. E. (2003). ‘Whatever feels good in my soul’: Body ethics and aesthetics among African American and Latina women. Culture, Medicine, and Psychiatry, 27, 49-75.


Rubin, L. R., Nemeroff, C. J., & Russo, N. F. (2004).  Exploring feminist women’s body consciousness. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 28, 27-37.


Rubin, L. R., & Russo, N. F. (2004). Abortion and mental health: What therapists need to know. Women and Therapy, 27, 69-90.


Rubin, L. R., & Steinberg, J. R. (2011). Self-objectification and pregnancy: Are body functionality dimensions protective? Sex Roles, 65, 606-618.


Rubin, L., & Tanenbaum, M. (2011). “Does that make me a woman?”: Breast cancer, mastectomy and breast reconstruction decisions among sexual minority women. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 35, 401-414.


Interview with Lisa Rubin: Feminist Identity

Interview conducted on March, 6 2012 by Alexandra Rutherford in Brooklyn, NY, U.S.A.


Interview with Lisa Rubin: Feminism and Health Psychology

Interview conducted on March, 6 2012 by Alexandra Rutherford in Brooklyn, NY, U.S.A.


Interview with Lisa Rubin: Experiences as a Feminist Psychologist

Interview conducted on March, 6 2012 by Alexandra Rutherford in Brooklyn, NY, U.S.A.