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Title: Women, health and politics, 1919-1939 : professional and lay involvement in the women's health campaign
Author: Palmer, Diana
Awarding Body: University of Warwick
Current Institution: University of Warwick
Date of Award: 1986
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This thesis analyses the aspirations and achievements of the lay women who were active in the campaign to improve women's health, and of those women who sought entry into paid occupations in the health services. After an introduction, Section One is intended to place the substantive data in context. Middle-class women's enthusiasm for voluntary work and the terms on which women entered national politics are discussed. These issues are used to illustrate the effects the maintenance of rigid social-class divisions had on the unity of the women's movement and the implications for the future of the movement of the decision to seek entry to the public domain on the grounds that women could make a unique contribution. Section Two is devoted to the lay women. First, the effect of the maintenance of rigid social-class divisions on the women's health campaign and on women seeking a career in the health services is discussed. Secondly, the consensus between both middle-class and working-class women, the medical profession and the Ministry of Health on the need to extend medical services is analysed, revealing an eagerness to follow technical advice which affected the strategy of the lay campaign and meant support for women workers in the health services was often circumspect. Thirdly, the reasons for the collapse of this consensus in the l93Os are discussed. This section is concluded with an assessment of the lay women's health campaign and a discussion of the impact the campaign had on women health workers. In Section Three, women's position as paid employees in the health services is analysed, and three occupations, midwifery, medicine and health visiting, have been selected. Difficulties these women encountered establishing themselves in paid employment, and their status and their relations with male colleagues and with the Ministry of Health are assessed. The differences between these three occupations, which prevented a sense of solidarity and an identification with the goals of the women's movement, are discussed. Their achievements during the period are assessed, and the effects of the medicalisation of childbirth and the increasing involvement of the state in maternity and child welfare are investigated. A fourth, concluding section draws these strands together. The lay women's health campaign and the goals and tactics of the women health workers are related to the maintenance of the existing social-class divisions, the ideological splits within the women's movennt and the persistence of barriers preventing women from competing on equal terms with men in the public domain. Although the number of women working in the health services increased dramatically and women's place in these services was assured, women generally remained in subordinate positions, excluded from the prestigious and lucrative posts, while they achieved only a statutory presence on decision-making bodies.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Social Science Research Council (Great Britain)
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: RA Public aspects of medicine