Key Professional Appointments

Professor Educational Psychology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1974 - present

Associate Chair Educational Psychology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1990 - 1994

Director of Training APA Accredited, Counseling Psychology Program, 1983 - 1988


Ph.D., Counseling Psychology, University of California, Los Angeles, 1972

M.A., Counseling Psychology, Columbia University, NYC, 1969

B.A., Psychology, Queens University, ON., Canada, 1952

Awards, Honors, Associations

Woman of the Year Division 17, American Psychological Association, 1999 - 1999

Outstanding Mentoring of Graduate Students University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1997 - 1997

Distinguished Senior Contributor to Counseling Psychology American Psychological Association, 1995 - 1995

Distinguished Senior Scholar College of Education, 1995 - 1995

Research & Service

Working with her research team, Helen Farmer has focused her research on investigating why women contribute less to the arts and sciences than men. The model developed to investigate this topic is a shift away from models that propose that internal psychological and biological factors are the cause of women’s lesser contributions in these areas. Instead, they investigated the contribution of external factors that women and men experience growing up as well as psychological and biological factors. Experiences in the family, community, and the school all are predicted to affect women’s motivation to contribute to society. They also included the workplace, the employment and promotion policies, and the impact of these on men and women’s motivation to achieve. Both men and women were studied in order to compare the effects of internal and external factors on motivation. In the first study, conducted in 1969, Dr. Farmer found that women increased their motivation to achieve in a career if they believed that men liked intelligent women, that they would be paid salaries equal to men’s, and that they could both raise a family and pursue a career and do both well (Farmer & Bohn, 1970). In 1979 a longitudinal study was launched with high school students in 15 schools in the Midwest. All ninth and twelfth grade students in these schools participated in the study, funded by the National Institute of Education and reported in Farmer, 1985. A follow-up study, funded by the National Science foundation, was funded in 1991 that included both quantitative data (Farmer et al. 1995) and interviews with a randomly selected group of participants who had been planning on a career in science or technology when they were in high school (Farmer & Associates, 1997). The interview data has been archived and is available for researchers to use (Farmer, 2005). Career Motivation and Achievement Planning: Longitudinal Study Interview transcripts. the Henry A. Murray Archives of the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University, Cambridge Mass. Log # 1135 (www.hmdc.harvard.edu). The strongest findings from these studies were found for the effects of the measure "Support for Women Working" on women’s achievement motivation. Findings from the interview data indicated a strong effect for early experiences in the family on motivation. There was also evidence linking career achievement with persistence in the face of disappointment and other kinds of difficulties.


Farmer, H., & Associates, . (1997) Diversity and women's career development: From adolescence to adulthood.. Sage: CA

Farmer, H., Wardrop, J., Anderson, M., & Risinger, R. (1995) Women's career choices: Focus on science, math and technology careers Journal of Counseling Psychology

Farmer, H. (1992) The influence of early environment and ongoing social support. Women's work: Choice, change or socialization Detselig Enterprises: Calgary, Canada

Tipping, L., & Farmer, H. (1991) A home-career conflict measure: Career counseling implications. Measurement and Evaluation in Counseling and Development 85 (1), 111-118

Farmer, H. (1985) Model of career and achievement motivation for women and men Journal of Counseling Psychology 32, 363-390

Helen Farmer

Professor Emerita, Educational Psychology


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