Competent women and competing professions: Physiotherapy educators' perceptions of the field
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
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.
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-66896DOI: 10.1080/140381999443447OAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-66896DiVA: diva2:609645