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Susan A. Nolan


Training Location(s):

PhD (Clinical Psychology), Northwestern University, (1999)

MS (Clinical Psychology), Northwestern University, (1996)

AB (Psychology), College of the Holy Cross, (1990)

Primary Affiliation(s):

Seton Hall University, (1999-present)

Media Links:
Professional Website

Susan A. Nolan at Seton Hall University


Psychology's Feminist Voices Oral History Transcript


Oral History Excerpt on YouTube: Research Interests

Oral History Excerpt on YouTube: Supporting Women




Career Focus: Women in STEM careers; gender and clinical issues; statistics; international psychology.


Susan Nolan grew up in a family of 4 siblings in a working to middle-class neighbourhood suffused with traditional gender roles. Her identity as a feminist was inspired by her next-door neighbor who was a single woman professor and owned her own house. Although she respected her mother's career as a part-time dental hygienist, she knew she  "wanted something different." Her encounter with her next door neighbor made her realize that she didn't have to embrace traditional gender roles. So Nolan decided to follow a different path.


As an undergraduate at the College of the Holy Cross, Nolan spent much of her time exploring different majors. She decided to major in psychology because of her keen interest in the introductory psychology course. Before entering graduate studies, Nolan worked with psychiatrists in the depression research unit of a nearby hospital. She developed an interest in "working with people with so many different kinds of mental illnesses." After completing her Bachelor of Arts in psychology, Nolan eventually enrolled at Northwestern University in Chicago, where she obtained a Master of Science and a Doctorate in Clinical Psychology with Susan Mineka and Ian Gotlib.


During her graduate studies, Nolan remembers coming face to face with gender discrimination. She discerned that she was not hired as a teaching assistant for a statistics course because it was believed that a female instructor could not teach the subject as well as a male instructor.  In fact, she found that "there had been no female statistics professors in psychology" for the past five years at Northwestern. Nolan, with characteristic determination and resourcefulness, contacted the Dean of Graduate Studies and Chair of the Psychology department to explore the situation. She was hired as the new teaching assistant within minutes.


Nolan has also always enjoyed statistics. As an undergraduate student, "we would compete in our classes to see who got the highest grade that time.  It was fun to try." Her interest propelled her to co-author a statistics textbook with colleague Thomas Heinzen.  In their text, they use feminist examples to demonstrate statistical methods to students. It was "really fun to make a book that I thought would be more approachable for women...Everybody, no matter what their gender, can find something to relate to." Also Nolan, as a statistics professor, reassures students that statistics is not a difficult course, and can even be an enjoyable one. As she does in her textbook, she uses "fun examples" that students can "relate to their lives."


In addition to her work authoring textbooks, Nolan has two major programs of research. The first is the perception of mental illnesses as related to social stigma and gender: "We are more likely to reject men when they show depressed moods...women are being told it's okay to feel all these [emotions]."  Her second line of research, with the collaboration of her Seton Hall colleagues Dr. Cecilia Marzobadi and Dr. Janine Buckner, is focused on the involvement of women in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) careers. 


Nolan has had many mentors throughout her life, and thus emphasizes the importance of good mentoring: "Mentoring is not an activity that you do at a certain time. It's just a way of living." Although there can be difficulties for both women and men in terms of finding good mentors, she believes that when compared to men, women "are not getting [supportive mentoring] to the same degree." Her belief in this need for supportive mentoring extends outside the university into the community, where she has been involved with the Big Sister program.


Nolan has always had an interest in international affairs, and with the assistance of her colleagues at Seton Hall University, implemented a new course - International Psychology - into the psychology curriculum. The course allows for an international perspective on the "many intersections with issues related to gender and culture and race and class." She was also responsible for the approval of the course as a credit towards the Arts and Sciences core in the Behavioral Sciences program at Seton Hall University.


Nolan is currently Professor and Chair of the Department of Psychology at Seton Hall University. Since arriving at Seton Hall in 1999, she has served as Associate Dean of Graduate Studies and as Director of the Women's Studies Center. She has taught Abnormal Psychology, International Psychology, and Statistics. Nolan is also currently serving as a United Nations Representative from the American Psychological Association with Florence Denmark, Deanna Chitayat, Janet Sigal, and Sherri Dingman where they work with different committees on the status of women, mental health, and social sustainable development.


As for advice to young feminists entering psychology, Nolan notes the importance of organizing support groups and proactively seeking out mentors. Further, she encourages feminists to apply their skills outside the walls of the academy: "It's really important for those of us who are feminist to not only do what we do in the academy, but to do it in our communities."


by Florence Truong (2011)

To cite this article, see Credits

Selected Works:


Nolan, S. A., & Heinzen, T. (2010). Essentials of statistics for the behavioral sciences. New York: Worth Publishers.


Nolan, S. A., Buckner, J. P., Marzabadi, C. H., & Kuck, V. J. (2008). Training and mentoring of chemists: A study of gender disparity. Sex Roles: A Journal of Research, 58 (3-4), 235-250.


Nolan, S. A., & Heinzen, T. (2008). Statistics for the behavioral sciences. New York: Worth Publishers.


Marzabadi, C. H., Kuck, V. J., Nolan, S. A., & Buckner, J. B. (Eds.) (2006). Dissolving disparity, catalyzing change: Are women achieving equity in chemistry?, New York: American Chemical Society (ACS) Books.


Nolan, S. A., & Buckner, J. P. (2004). Analysis by gender of the doctoral and postdoctoral institutions of faculty members at the top-fifty ranked chemistry departments. Journal of Chemical Eduction, 81 (3), 356-363.


Nolan, S. A., Flynn, C. & Garber, J. (2003). The relation between rejection and depression in adolescents. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 85(4), 745-755.

Photo Gallery:


Interview with Susan Nolan: Research Interests, Gender, & Statistics

Interview conducted onMay 23, 2009 by Alexandra Rutehrford in San Francisco, CA, U.S.A.


Interview with Susan Nolan: Supporting Women in Psychology

Interview conducted on May 23, 2009 by Alexandra Rutherford in San Francisco, CA, U.S.A.