Gendering occupations: Persistence and resistance of gender presumptions about members of particular healthcare professions
Ekberg, Katie & Ekberg, Stuart (2017) Gendering occupations: Persistence and resistance of gender presumptions about members of particular healthcare professions. Gender and Language, 11(1).
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In spite of increasing gender diversity in employment roles, presumptions persist about the gender of people employed in particular occupations. Focusing on healthcare data collected in Australia and the United Kingdom within the past decade, we use Conversation Analysis (CA) to identify how presumptions about gender are displayed within social interaction through the use of gender-specific pronouns. We show how gender-specific pronouns are asymmetrically selected on the basis of a referent’s occupations, with gender-unspecified members of traditionally male occupations (e.g. doctors) referred to with masculine pronouns and gender-unspecified members of traditionally female occupations (e.g. nurses) referred to with feminine pronouns. We also explore ways people avoid making such presumptions. Our analysis therefore reveals a state of flux in contemporary social life, with instances in which gender presumptions persist as well as attempts to employ person references that reflect contemporary social dynamics.
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