As a child she studied language and music.She is married to James Gilligan, M.D., who directed the Center for the Study of Violence at Harvard Medical School. They have three children together.
In 2002, Carol Gilligan became a Professor at New York University (NYU). She currently also works with NYU’s School of Law, the Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development, and the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. She teaches a seminar at the Law School on Resisting Injustice and an advanced research seminar on The Listening Guide Method of Psychological Inquiry. She is a visiting professor at the University of Cambridge affiliated with the Centre for Gender Studies and with Jesus College. She is the published author of , In a Different Voice, Harvard University Press, (1982), Mapping the Moral Domain: A Contribution of Women's Thinking to Psychological Theory and Education, Harvard University Press, (1989), Making Connections: The Relational Worlds of Adolescent Girls at Emma Willard School, Harvard University Press, (1990), Meeting at the Crossroads: Women's Psychology and Girls' Development, Harvard University Press, (1992), Between Voice and Silence: Women and Girls, Race and Relationships, Harvard University Press, (1997), The Birth of Pleasure, Knopf, (2002), Kyra, Random House, (2008), The Deepening Darkness: Patriarchy, Resistance, & Democracy's Future, Cambridge University Press, (2009) (with co-author David A.J. Richards), and a dramatic adaptation of the novel The Scarlet Letter, co-written with her son Jonathan and produced by Prime Stage Theatre in November 2011. the Grawemeyer Award in Educationin 1992, Time Magazine - one of the 25 most influential Americans in 1996, and 4th Annual Heinz Award in the Human Condition in 1998.
Eventually Gilligan began to criticize some of Kohlberg' s work because she realized that most studies of psychological and moral development involved only privileged white men. She believed that this caused a biased opinions that oppressed women .she criticized Kohlberg’s stage theory of moral development because the males view on individual rights was prioritized and higher staged than women’s views of development in terms of its caring effect on human relationships. She voices her opinions in her famous book " In a different Voice: Psychological Theory and Women ' s Development " which was published in 1982.
“Gilligan's book is a complaint against the male centered personality psychology of Freud and Erickson, and the male centered developmental psychology of Kohlberg. Her complaint is not that it is unjust to leave women out of psychology (though she says that). Her complaint is that it is not good psychology if it leaves out half of the human race.”
proposes a stage theory of moral development for women: