Almost from the start, however, critics began to ask uncomfortable questions about Gilligan’s methods and arguments. Did the evidence bear out her impassioned stance? Did her studies live up to the standards of her field? And what were they to make of a feminist argument based on generalizations about the sensitive, emotional character of women?
These critics, many of whom started out as sympathetic toward Gilligan, pointed out that while her conclusions might feel true—and they certainly did, especially to a certain kind of educated woman—they couldn’t be backed up by research.
Today, “In a Different Voice” has been the subject of so many rebuttals that it is no longer taken seriously as an academic work. The New York Times put it gently a decade ago: “[Gilligan’s] academic reputation has not followed the same skyward trajectory as her public prestige.”
Still, “In a Different Voice” retains an iconic status, and Gilligan has ridden its fame to tenure at Harvard and then a plum position at New York University.