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Journal of Interdisciplinary Feminist Thought

Disciplines

Gender and Sexuality | Inequality and Stratification | Medicine and Health

Abstract

In the hospital, both male and female doctors ‘do gender’, but because men and masculinity are associated with greater authority (and by association, competence), masculinised traits are favoured over feminine traits in the hospital workplace. In order to be accepted as competent doctors, female doctors expend a great deal of ‘emotional labour’ and ‘do gender’ by acting out prized masculine traits through appearance and behaviour strategies and thereby gaining legitimacy as respected, competent doctors in their interactions with other co-workers (doctors, nurses) and patients. Our study looks at the varied experiences of both older/senior and younger/junior medical doctors. Through in-depth interviews with 41 male and female doctors, this article examines how masculinities and masculine practices become embedded, routinized and legitimised in the hospital workplace. We find that gender, age and specialty play important roles in gender stereotyping, negatively affecting not just female doctors, but male doctors too who may need to ‘do gender’ by adhering to the strictest masculine norms. By examining the interplay of gender inequalities in the everyday interactive workplace relationships between doctors, nurses and patients in hospitals, our study finds that everyday practices of gendered behaviour are driven by complex age-gender stereotypic intersections that do not prioritise female doctors, particularly young and female doctors.

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