oa South African Medical Journal - Feminisation of the South African medical profession - not yet nirvana for gender equity

Volume 101, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 0256-9574
  • E-ISSN: 2078-5135



The notion of feminisation of a profession signifies a variety of meanings. In much of the literature, a profession is feminised when women constitute the majority of its practitioners. However, Menkel-Meadow identifies two other meanings: those who recognise certain attributes as uniquely feminine regard the profession as feminised 'when traits such as empathy, relatedness, nurturance and collectiveness are recognised, valued and expressed in the performance of professional tasks and functions'. Women purportedly impart these traits when they join a profession. Then there is the feminist premise that a profession is feminised not by stereotypic attribution of gender qualities, but when its practice and substantive rules adapt and change in such a manner that women who enter the profession do not have to conform to a male model of what it means to be a professional. This editorial considers feminisation of the South African medical profession from all three perspectives.

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