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Deborah Tolman

Dr. Deborah Tolman is a Professor of Women and Gender Studies at Hunter College and a Professor of Critical Social Psychology at The Graduate Center at CUNY.  Prior to CUNY, she was Professor of Sexuality Studies at San Francisco State University, where she was the founding director of the Center for Research on Gender and Sexuality. Dr. Tolman holds a doctorate in Applied Developmental Psychology from the Graduate School of Education at Harvard University and has a Master's degree from UPenn in Sexuality Education. Her first book, Dilemmas of Desire: Teenage Girls Talk about Sexuality (2002/2005, Harvard University Press) was awarded the Association of Women in Psychology’s book award (2003). Her work focuses on adolescent girls’ sexuality, with an emphasis on girls’ experiences, including of sexual desire and of fellatio; mechanisms of the (re)production of gender inequity in heterosexual adolescent sexual relationships; feminist qualitative and mixed methodologies; and sexualization, its effects and feminist interventions. She is a co-founder (with Lyn Mikel Brown and Dana Edell) of SPARK Movement, an initiative to train and engage girls and women to work together intergenerationally to challenge how marginalized people are objectified, surveilled, harassed and controlled through sexuality, gender and the body, as activists. She is launching a new initiative, SPARK Research, incorporating participatory action research into SPARK’s work. She is privileged to work and collaborate with incredibly talented students and colleagues. She has conducted another study, an updated version of original questions from Dilemma and new questions to learn about the development of social media, new technologies, and current representations of diverse girls’ sexuality as part of what girls have to navigate.  She is now writing a new book, tentatively titled Desiring Girls: Teenage Girls Talk about Desire, Sex and Relationships.  For many years, Dr. Tolman has been committed to the dissemination of research on gender and sexuality beyond the academy to ensure that the new knowledge that can help push back against stereotypes and prejudices, and help journalists, policymakers, professionals, parents and teachers of young people, among others, to provide support, information and tools for change. 

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