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Gender, professions and public policy: new directions

Ellen Kuhlmann (Department of Social and Policy Sciences, University of Bath, Bath, UK)
Ivy Lynn Bourgeault (Department of Health, Ageing and Society/Sociology, McMaster University, Hamilton, Canada)

Equal Opportunities International

ISSN: 0261-0159

Article publication date: 4 January 2008




This article aims to provide an overview on key trends in public sector policy and professional development and how they intersect with gender and diversity. It seeks to explore new configurations in the relationship between gender and the professions and to develop a matrix for the collection of articles presented in this volume.


The authors link social policy and governance approaches to the study of professions, using the health professions and academics as case studies. Material from a number of studies carried out by the authors together with published secondary sources provide the basis of our analysis; this is followed by an introduction of the scope and structure of this thematic issue.


The findings underline the significance of public policy as key to better understand gender and diversity in professional groups. The outline of major trends in public sector professions brings into focus both the persistence of gender inequality and the emergence of new lines of gendered divisions in the professions.

Practical implications

The research presented here highlights a need for new models of public sector management and professional development that are more sensitive to equality and diversity.


This article focuses on the “making” of inequality at the interface of public policy and professional action. It introduces a context sensitive approach that moves beyond equal opportunity policies and managerial accounts and highlights new directions in research and policy.



Kuhlmann, E. and Lynn Bourgeault, I. (2008), "Gender, professions and public policy: new directions", Equal Opportunities International, Vol. 27 No. 1, pp. 5-18.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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