Female Doctors in Conflict: How Gendering Processes in German Hospitals Influence Female Physicians’ Careers

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In German medicine, there is a gap between the increasing number of female medical students and the backlog of women at different turning points of their career. In hospitals, which can be regarded as ‘gendered organizations’, female doctors are confronted with structural discrimination, which is interpreted as gendering processes. In a qualitative, longitudinal study with twenty female physicians who were interviewed three times over the course of 5 years, discriminatory processes were shown on two levels. First, female physicians were categorized as females, and their gender role rather than their professional role as a physician was emphasized. Second, if they were (expectant) mothers, they became even more stereotyped as a female. This stereotyping occurred by reinforcing the conflict between the role of a mother and the role of a professional. It is shown how the women themselves, organizational peculiarities of hospitals, job conditions, and behaviours of male staff members may all contribute to maintaining vertical gender inequality in medicine.

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