Women doctors in the British health services : a sociological study of their careers and opportunities
This thesis is an examination of the careers of women in medicine in Britain from the 1860s to the 1970s. It begins with an analysis of some of the sociological literature on the medical profession and argues that much of this has been guided by inappropriate assumptions concerning the history and present position of women within the British medical profession. An analysis of statistical evidence on the numbers of women doctors follows which shows that the number of women within the profession has often been underestimated. The trends in women's entry to medical schools in Britain are examined in detail, showing fluctuation in their entry over the past century and the changing pattern of segregation into particular medical schools. This section includes a brief consideration of the development and significance of the practice of reserving 'quotas' of places for women in medical schools from 1947 to 1975. Part Two consists of an historical analysis of the careers of women in medicine in successive periods over the past century. It begins with an analysis of the campaign for women's access to medical education in the late-nineteenth century, in relation to the contemporary women's movement and the professionalization of medicine. The following two chapters examine in detail the education and careers of women entering medicine before the First World War. The implications of the limitations of medical women's practice to women and children only are explored in relation to the contemporary organization of medical care. This limitation persisted until the First World War which brought about a marked increase in the numbers of women entering medicine, and wider opportunities for women to practise medicine, at least in the short-term. The subsequent reaction within medical schools and the profession is then analysed, as is the significance of the increasing state involvement in health service provision. The final chapter considers the implications of the development of the National Health Service for medical women's careers.