Feminism and Women's Health Professions in Ontario Academic Article uri icon

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abstract

  • Historically, prevailing gender ideologies were an important element in both the exclusionary strategies employed by male occupational groups and the countervailing responses by female groups. The way in which evolving gender ideologies, and feminism in particular, influence the continuing struggle for greater status and recognition by female professions, however, remains to be fully explored. In this paper, we examine the impact and the role of feminism and feminist ideologies within three female professional projects: nursing, dental hygiene and midwifery in Ontario. We argue that feminism provides an ideology of opposition that enables leaders in these professions to battle against professional inequalities by laying bare the gender inequalities that underlie them. Framing their struggles in feminist terms, female professions also seek recognition for the uniquely female contribution they make to the health care division of labour. At the same time, there exists a tension between ideals of feminism and ideals of professionalism, that has the potential to undermine female professional projects.

publication date

  • January 2004