Between "Playing Doctor," "Work-Life-Balance," and "Highend-Medicine": Do Young Doctors Challenge "Hegemonic Masculinity" in the Field of Medicine?

  • Katharina Rothe William Alanson White Institute
  • Johannes Deutschbein Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin
  • Carsten Wonneberger
  • Dorothee Alfermann Universität Leipzig
Keywords: medicine, gender, motherhood, feminization, hegemonic masculinity, group discussions, psychoanalytic social research


In this contribution we discuss the question of whether the so-called "feminization" of medicine challenges persisting power structures in the field. The notion of the "feminization of medicine" implies both the "masculinity" of the field and its change due to the increasing number of female medical doctors. We present the comparative analysis of two group discussions from the longitudinal study "Career Paths and Career Breaks of Medical Doctors During Residency" (KarMed).  One discussion was held with women, one discussion with men, all of whom had just completed their medical studies. In both discussions the theme of gender came up manifestly in the discursive context of the so-called "feminization of medicine." The discussants contrasted this "feminization" with the mythologically laden "masculinity" of surgery. The material of our group discussions indicates a persistent masculine norm in the perception of both female and male doctors. Despite all differences between their members, the group of men constituted itself as a group of medical doctors representing the masculine norm. The group of women constituted itself through shared identifications as "women in medicine." We analyzed the material with psychoanalytic methods in social research and we discuss our interpretations in relation to the notions of "feminization" and of "hegemonic masculinity."



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Author Biographies

Katharina Rothe, William Alanson White Institute

Katharina ROTHE, Dr. phil., Dipl.-Psych. ist Sozialforscherin und niedergelassene Psychologin und Psychoanalytikerin in New York City. Sie hat gerade ihre psychoanalytische Ausbildung am William Alanson White Institute in New York abgeschlossen.

Johannes Deutschbein, Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin

Johannes DEUTSCHBEIN, Mag. art. der Kulturwissenschaften, ist wissenschaftlicher Mitarbeiter am Institut für Medizinische Soziologie und Rehabilitationswissenschaft an der Charité-Universitätsmedizin Berlin.

Carsten Wonneberger

Carsten WONNEBERGER, Dipl.-Psych. arbeitet derzeit in Leipzig an einem Promotionsprojekt zum Thema "Der Tod und die moderne Medizin – zum Wandel von Heil und Heilung" sowie als wissenschaftlicher Berater für die Healthcare GmbH und als psychologischer Gutachter.

Dorothee Alfermann, Universität Leipzig

Dorothee ALFERMANN, Univ. Prof., Dr. phil., Dipl.-Psych., Projektleiterin des Leipziger Teilprojekts von KarMed. Koautorin (zusammen mit Ursula ATHENSTAEDT) des Buchs "Geschlechterrollen und ihre Folgen. Eine sozialpsychologische Betrachtung", Stuttgart: Kohlhammer, 2011.

How to Cite
Rothe, K., Deutschbein, J., Wonneberger, C., & Alfermann, D. (2015). Between "Playing Doctor," "Work-Life-Balance," and "Highend-Medicine": Do Young Doctors Challenge "Hegemonic Masculinity" in the Field of Medicine?. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung / Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 17(1).
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