The “Feminising” of Medicine

In this recent article, Alan Bleakley from the University of Plymouth discusses the ‘feminising’ of medicine as more and more women enter the field. He argues that this process needs to go beyond a change in demographic numbers and that women as well as men should use the higher number of women in medicine to reform the field and rid it of its patriarchal structures, practices and gendered ways of thinking (e.g. valuing quantity over quality of patient care in the case of limited resources). Theories drawn from post-structural feminism that focuses on the social construction of gender can serve as a guiding framework for such an endeavour. He suggests that by doing so the feminising of medicine will result in a facilitation of democratic habits in medicine and notes that changes in medical education are necessary to bring about this change.

It could be argued that surgery being one of the more ‘masculine’ fields of medicine, would benefit more than other fields from such a change. Or is it that the nature of the field makes certain stereotypically masculine practices and structures necessary? Is surgery already in the process of being more ‘feminised’ in ways that go beyond demographic changes?

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