Hospital administration in the USA represents a rare instance of a female‐dominated occupation that masculinized. Advocacy for the change in social identity began in the early decades of the twentieth century and had succeeded by the second half of the century. The purpose of this paper is to explore the contribution of university programs in hospital administration to the change.
Analysis of the American Hospital Association's Guide to Hospitals, of journals published during the study period, and of archival material from universities, hospitals, as well as the American College of Healthcare Executives.
Graduate programs in hospital administration contributed to the occupation's masculinization because they admitted virtually no female students. At the same time, many hospitals switched to untrained male administrators even before graduates became available in significant numbers. This reflects normative and mimetic pressures to retain a male administrator per se. The appearance of male graduates then solidified the change in the occupation's social identity because hospitals that wanted to retain an executive with education in the field had no choice but to hire a man.
Knowledge of hospital management as an originally female‐dominated occupation has been recaptured only recently. This paper offers insight into an important aspect of this history in highlighting the effect on the occupation's social identity from educational programs that functioned as portals into the occupation and from professional associations that set norms for organizations in the field.
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