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Maas, Megan, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor, Human Development and Family Studies

vaw_icon_pdf_sm Curriculum Vitae

About

Megan Maas, PhD, is an assistant professor in Human Development & Family Studies. Her work sits at the intersection of sexual violence prevention and sexual health promotion. She received her PhD in 2016 from The Pennsylvania State University as a pre-doctoral fellow funded by the National Institutes of Health. Her award-winning research, recognized by the American Psychological Association, focuses on adolescent sexual socialization, with an emphasis on the bi-directional role that social media, sexting, and online pornography play in the development of attitudes and behavior related to sexuality and gender.

As a developmental psychologist, she investigates processes of sexual socialization, or how we learn to be sexual beings through cultural norms, media experiences, parenting practices, and school environments. As a prevention scientist, she integrates feminist frameworks (e.g., objectification theory, theory of heteronormativity) that help to explain gender inequality with theories of behavior change (e.g. theory of health efficacy, social norms theory) to mitigate sexual violence and promote sexual wellbeing during adolescence and emerging adulthood. For example, her current work examines online sexual misconduct in K-12 educational settings and evaluates programming to prevent sexual harassment of students and educate public school workers on the realities of online sexual violence for today’s digital native youth.

Dr. Maas is concerned by the fact that women and girls have gained greater power in the educational, social, political, and economic spheres, but remain disproportionately exploited for sexual purposes both publicly and interpersonally. Her work responds to this problem through changing the way we socialize young children and adolescents to conceptualize and engage with their gender and sexuality. Through exploration of and intervention in the primary sexual socialization agents (parents, schools, peers, and media), she aims to transform this final frontier of gender inequity. Born and raised in California, Dr. Maas earned her bachelor’s degree in Psychology from California State University, Sacramento. As a certified health educator, she developed a popular lecture series which integrated peer-reviewed information on pornography use into sexual health and violence behaviors. For the last 10 years, she has been invited to talk on this subject for audiences of college students, parents, and mental health professionals at universities and organizations across the country.

Select Publications

In the media:

How the Evolution of Porn Changed Adolescence — TEDxMSU 2020 Talk
New kids movie sparks debate about child sexual abuse – Featured on WLNS
Perpetrators choose victims who aren’t knowledgeable about their bodies – Featured on WLNS

About RCGV

MSU’s Research Consortium on Gender-Based Violence faculty and staff are dedicated to research and outreach initiatives related to ending and preventing gender-based violence and improving the community response to survivors. RCGV faculty are committed to mentoring the next generation of gender-based violence researchers by providing substantial educational and employment opportunities to undergraduate and graduate students.

Gender-based violence (GBV) is a significant and widespread social problem internationally, devastating adults, children, families and societies across the globe. It includes any form of harm that is both a consequence and cause of gender power inequities. It can be physical, psychological, sexual, economic, or sociocultural, and includes but is not limited to sexual abuse, rape, intimate partner abuse, incest, sexual harassment, stalking, femicide, trafficking, gendered hate crimes and dowry abuse. Gender-based violence intersects with race-based, class-based or religiously oppressive forms of abuse, and cross-cuts many other social problems (e.g., poverty, substance abuse, mental and physical health, crime).


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