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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:'They heal in the spirit of the mother': gender, race and professionalisation of South African medical women
Author:Walker, LizISNI
Periodical:African Studies
Geographic term:South Africa
Subjects:gender relations
professional associations
women workers
women's organizations
health personnel
Health and Nutrition
Labor and Employment
Ethnic and Race Relations
Peoples of Africa (Ethnic Groups)
Health, Nutrition, and Medicine
Cultural Roles
External link:https://doi.org/10.1080/00020180300991
Abstract:This paper details aspects of the gendered and racial character of medical professionalization in South Africa during the apartheid years through a case study of the South African Society of Medical Women (SASMW), an organization that was established in 1951 with the purpose of promoting the interests of women doctors and combating gender inequality in the medical profession. The members of the Society were almost without exception white, middle and upper middle-class women. The paper demonstrates that the SASMW encountered and created opportunities and limitations which were both facilitated and imposed at different times and in different ways. The Society was neither passive nor simply reactive. It contested and challenged obstacles within the profession in ways which indicate that this group of white women doctors were agents and not simply victims of a patriarchal profession operating in a society constructed along similarly patriarchal lines. Yet, women in the Society were constrained by institutional barriers, men in the profession and the State, as well as by social codes and conventions which dictated appropriate social and professional behaviour for women. At the same time, however, white medical women were in all respects the beneficiaries of apartheid which structured and divided the medical profession along racial lines. Bibliogr., notes, ref. [ASC Leiden abstract]