UMass Lowell professor at head of her class

08/01/2007
By Used with permission from the Lowell Sun Online. By STEFANIE SCARLETT Sun Staff

LOWELL -- Meg Bond has seen many changes in community psychology since she started working in the field nearly 20 years ago -- and she's responsible for some of them herself.

Bond, a psychology professor at the University of Massachusetts Lowell and co-director of its Center for Women and Work, has helped to make the field more culturally diverse and to bring more national attention to gender and race issues in the workplace, her colleagues say.

Community psychology is "devoted to issues of empowerment and prevention, and looks at people within the context they live in," Bond said.

Her work was recently recognized with a Special Contribution to Community Psychology award from the Society for Community Research in Action, a division of the American Psychological Association.

The award is not given annually, only periodically when the Society wants to honor an individual's work.

Bond received the award last month during a national conference in Georgia. She has been a member of the society since 1983, when she earned her doctorate, and served as its president from 1996 to 1999.

Her initial research projects focused on sexual harassment. While many tried to define behavior or examine laws and policies, Bond looked at how the culture of a company can influence how men and women relate to each other or set the stage for harassment, she said.

She has expanded her research to look at similar issues involving race.

Bond has taught at UMass Lowell since 1989. She lives in Cambridge with her husband, Bill Madsen, and their two children.

Before joining the UMass Lowell faculty, she taught for a year at Lesley University and also has worked with human service agencies in Illinois.

Her latest project, a collaboration with UMass Lowell economist Jean Pyle and occupational epidemiologist Laura Punnett, examines the impact of workplace discrimination on health, Pyle said.

The research will look at how discrimination can affect a person's stress level and, in turn, his "work outcomes," or absenteeism and job turnover, she said.

Pyle also is a co-director of the Center for Women and Work with Bond.

"She brings so much to that role," Pyle said of Bond. "She brings a wealth of experience about how to work in partnership with different organizations. She's an incredibly hard worker, and she's very thorough. You can always count on her to do everything right."

Bond said changes have brought "increased sophistication around issues of diversity" to the field of community psychology. While it always was a field focused on social justice, it still was very "white male" when she started working in the early 1980s.

The next phase of the profession's growth involved bringing more women and minorities into the field, an effort on which Bond focused.

"Meg's commitment to equity has directly contributed to visible progress in representation and influence of women and persons of color in our division, and to enhanced sensitivity to diversity concerns," Bond's colleague Andrea Solarz wrote in a nomination letter to the society.

Today, community psychologists are trying to get beyond "identity politics" and looking at broader issues of gender and race, Bond said.

She said her own work will continue to try and answer questions such as, "How is it that women and men experience the world differently, and what implications does that have? How does that get institutionalized? How does growing up (in a certain situation) shape your life, your psyche and your reactions?"