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  • Private Practice and Gendered Power

Private Practice and Gendered Power

Women Doctors in Hong Kong

Siumi Maria Tam

English , 1999/01 HKIAPS, Occasional Paper Series Hong Kong Institute of Asia-Pacific Studies, CUHK

Tags: Hong Kong Studies

215 x 140 mm , 18pp ISBN / ISSN : 9789624410990

  • US$1.50

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This paper examines the dilemma faced by female doctors as members of a highly regarded profession and, at the same time, members of an underprivileged social category: women. It was part of a pioneer study of gender and the professions in Hong Kong, using in-depth interviews of female professionals and a questionnaire survey of both sexes from five professions. This paper presents preliminary findings on the medical profession. It reveals the paradoxical subjectivities of female doctors who, on the one hand, experience a high self-esteem based on their social status derived from financial rewards, social prestige and collective power as members of a highly autonomous and defensive profession. On the other hand, women doctors find themselves suffering from a low self-esteem as they struggle to reconcile a double burden constructed from a full-time professional job and the social expectations to perform according to the perfect motherhood norms. Female doctors resort to going into private practice in order to achieve a "balance" of their public and domestic responsibilities. In so doing, structurally they reinforce the asymmetrical gender power relations of the medical institution, relegating themselves to a subordinate position as they give up competitive career-building. Culturally they substantiate, both knowingly and unknowingly, long-established gender roles in which females should embrace only an existence in the "private" realm, both professional and familial. Only when they assume a collective identity, and in combination with their professional status, do they find a voice of their own.

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