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Competent women and competing professions: Physiotherapy educators' perceptions of the field
Umeå University, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Community Medicine and Rehabilitation, Physiotherapy.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-3083-106X
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Child and Youth education, Special Education and Counselling (BUSV).
Umeå University, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Public Health and Clinical Medicine, Epidemiology and Public Health Sciences.
1999 (English)In: Advances in Physiotherapy, ISSN 1403-8196, E-ISSN 1651-1948, Vol. 1, no 2, 59-72 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Career choices are still strongly gendered in health care professions. In Sweden, physiotherapy is a middle-class women's profession that nowadays also attracts men. Career strategies and professional development in physiotherapy are sparsely studied from a gender perspective. The purpose of this qualitative study was to describe and analyse perceptions of individual professional development, physiotherapy education and the profession in general, among a group of women educators in physiotherapy, using a gender theoretical framework and some of Bourdieu's theoretical concepts in the analysis. Thematized in-depth interviews with fourteen educators in physiotherapy were performed. The analysis used the Grounded Theory method of constant comparison. To increase credibility, the study design used triangulation in interviewers and investigators, member checking and reference group checking. Three core categories were identified. The Competent Woman category involves the professional development of the educators, including aspects of competence, success, efficiency and flexibility. Perceptions of femininity and masculinity reflect the symbolic dimension of gender. Femininity is regarded as symbolic capital for empathy and care, while masculinity represents status and power. The core category Theory-Practice Gap describes the isolated position of physiotherapy education in relation to the field of health care. The fragmented and disintegrated professional knowledge base does not facilitate the development of the profession. The core category Profession under Change reflects ideas about physiotherapy in society. Other female health care professions, ongoing societal change and conservative physiotherapy practices constitute a threat to the future development of the field. Visions for future development of the field emphasized the importance of professional competence and engagement in innovative activities in new arenas and new professional roles. The results shed light on the symbolic dimension of gender in a professional field where femininity is connected with academic success, empathy and care, while masculinity is related to business mentality, status and power. Notions of competition include both internal and external factors affecting the field of physiotherapy.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Informa Healthcare, 1999. Vol. 1, no 2, 59-72 p.
National Category
Educational Sciences
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-66896DOI: 10.1080/140381999443447OAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-66896DiVA: diva2:609645
Projects
digitalisering@umu
Available from: 2013-03-06 Created: 2013-03-06 Last updated: 2017-12-06Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Profession on the move: Changing conditions and gendered development in physiotherapy
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Profession on the move: Changing conditions and gendered development in physiotherapy
2001 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Physiotherapy in Sweden has developed from a practical, hands-on, assistant job predominantly taught at college level to a university-based academic discipline emphasising evidence-based practice and research. Women are in majority although an increasing number of men have entered the profession. Women and men physiotherapists tend to undertake different career paths. The overall aim of the present thesis was to use a gender perspective to describe and analyse attitudes to the professional role, health care work and the development of the profession among actors engaged in physiotherapy education.

A questionnaire was distributed in 1997 to all Swedish physiotherapy students in the second semester of the education (n=273). The same cohort was investigated in 1999 at the completion of the education. The response rate was 93 percent at both occasions. For an international comparison, the same questionnaire was distributed in 1997 and in 1999 to a group of Canadian physiotherapy students in their first and last semesters (n=60). Qualitative research interviews were conducted with 8 novices in physiotherapy and with 14 women educators in academia. Five focus group discussions with clinical supervisors were conducted (10 women and 5 men). Methods used were Grounded theory, factor analysis, logistic regression and path analysis. Feminist theories and Bourdieu's theory of culture constituted a theoretical framework

Four ideal types were identified among the novices representing attitudes to the professional role. The Treater and The Supervisor were attitudes found among the women, whereas The Coach and The Entrepreneur were attitudes among the men. Type of health care facility was important for their positioning in the organisational hierarchy. Swedish students favour future employment in private practice. Sports medicine clinics and fitness centres are health care facilities highly endorsed, as is health promotion. Neither care of elderly nor hospital work are preferable fields of practice. Research is not favoured. Men students are more likely to have chosen the profession because of their interest in physical activity and sports. They are also more likely to prefer owning a private clinic and working with alternative approaches such as fitness training in sports medicine clinics. Women students are more likely to prefer an employment in private practice. The Canadian men students favour private practice whereas the women prefer the public sector of health care. The academic educators experience a gap between theory and practice which causes conflicting messages to students. Competing professions, emergent societal change and a conservative clinical practice constitute threats to the profession. The uniqueness of professional competency, theoretical development and new arenas such as home rehabilitation, consulting and research constitute a vision for future development of the profession. Masculinity is highly valued for status and power whereas femininity symbolises empathy and caring. The clinical supervisors update their theoretical knowledge base through supervision of students, but claim that students lack hands-on skills. Stress at work, unequal power relations in the hierarchy and restructuring of health care are factors that influence work satisfaction negatively. To conclude, gendered habitus, different symbolic capital and different attitudes towards health care work and development of the profession were found in the sub-fields of physiotherapy.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Umeå: Umeå Universitet, 2001. 132 p.
Series
Umeå University medical dissertations, ISSN 0346-6612 ; 730
Keyword
career, gender, division of labour, physiotherapy, health care, professional socialisation, professional development, gendered habitus, field, symbolic capital
National Category
Medical and Health Sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-7519 (URN)91-7305-017-2 (ISBN)
Public defence
2001-05-11, Tandläkarhögskolan, Sal B, 9tr., Umeå universitet, Umeå, 10:00
Projects
digitalisering@umu
Available from: 2008-01-10 Created: 2008-01-10 Last updated: 2015-04-29Bibliographically approved

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Öhman, AnnHägg, KerstinDahlgren, Lars
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