The purpose of this paper is to explore the motivations underlying the specialisation choices of six female specialist doctors working in Cape Town, South Africa and to…
The purpose of this paper is to explore the motivations underlying the specialisation choices of six female specialist doctors working in Cape Town, South Africa and to investigate whether the specific gender work identity associated with that specialism resulted in their motivation to enter it.
The research methodology comprised conducting semi‐structured interviews, where female medical doctors were asked to provide an account of their general experiences as medical doctors in a male‐dominated profession, as well as a more specific question related to their choice of specialisation.
These female medical specialists entered these so‐called soft specialisms mainly for three reasons: so‐called female‐friendly characteristics; exposure to, not necessarily fuelled by interest in, certain specialisms; and so‐called male characteristics.
The importance of such research is threefold as it has practical, social, and economic implications. The practical implications are evident in that a better understanding of the perceived gendered work identities has the potential to impact better retention and recruitment. The social implication is also important, as unchallenged gendered trends serve to perpetuate gender unequal outcomes in the wider society, which can be constraining or discriminatory. Lastly, an aspect which is not always considered is the fact that gender inequality is economically inefficient. The scientific value is found in the space it provides for reconsidering the relevance of the use of the terms “soft and hard” specialisms to explain the drivers of internal segregation in the medical profession.
In 1985, I was moving along a more or less definable disciplinary path, writing qualitative sociology guided by my understanding of leading symbolic interactionist texts…
In 1985, I was moving along a more or less definable disciplinary path, writing qualitative sociology guided by my understanding of leading symbolic interactionist texts, productively disturbed by affection for Harold Garfinkel's ethnomethodology. Although there were prior lines of influence, my writing then was focused especially on various “social constructionist” projects, first with Peter Conrad (Conrad & Schneider, 1992 ; Schneider & Conrad, 1983) and then with Malcolm Spector and John Kitsuse (Kitsuse & Schneider, 1984, 1989). I also read closely and had many conversations with Anselm Strauss about how to do what he and Barney Glaser called “grounded theory” and with Howard Becker about “doing sociology.” Not only did I feel that I was getting better at doing ethnography or field work and “writing it up,” as we put it in Sociology, I felt I was engaged in an epistemologically superior practice relative to the more quantitative and structurally oriented work that was then and still is defined as “mainstream” (a land from which I had emigrated, gradually, after the Ph.D.).