Women physicians in Quebec

Soc Sci Med. 1997 Jun;44(12):1825-32. doi: 10.1016/s0277-9536(96)00292-4.


This article presents the results of a qualitative study on women physicians in Quebec which aimed to go beyond a mere statistical description of the tendencies observed in their practices. It proposes an interpretation of their discourses on their practice and its context bringing to light the interdependence of individual strategies and structural constraints. We met 30 women physicians and eight men physicians asking them to talk freely about their personal and professional experience. The data reveal how the individual characteristics and interests of women physicians prevail in their decisions at key moments in their lives which have repercussions on the shaping of their practice. These moments include admission into the faculty of medicine, training, professional orientation and the choice of a specialized field, organization of professional practice and personal life. The medical practice of women is constructed through these choices and the gender variable plays a more or less significant role at each stage of this construction. Their distinctive choices reflect how gender relations are reproduced in the private sphere and the interactions between their private and professional lives. According to our participants, a difference lies in the place occupied by their profession in women and men physicians' lives. The private life of women physicians appears to be closely linked to their decisions regarding the organization of their professional life and as a result to the health services they provide, suggesting they have their own way of "being a physician". The individual nature of the strategies they adopt can have, at a collective level, consequences on the planning and the distribution of medical resources in the publicly managed health care system in Quebec while raising the global issue of gendered division of labor.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Career Choice*
  • Decision Making*
  • Family
  • Female
  • Gender Identity
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Physicians, Women / psychology*
  • Physicians, Women / statistics & numerical data
  • Quebec
  • Self Concept*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Women, Working / psychology*
  • Women, Working / statistics & numerical data