Gender, health and healthcare: women's and men's experience of health and working in healthcare roles

Watts, Jacqueline H. (2015). Gender, health and healthcare: women's and men's experience of health and working in healthcare roles. Farnham: Ashgate.



Taking a social constructionist perspective, the book aims to consider the ways in which gender impacts upon health in all its elements including access, technology, professionalisation, health promotion and health as an important sector of the labour market. The volume begins with discussion of gender as a developing and diversified category, exploring ideas about masculinity and the fluidity of gender boundaries in determining individual identity. Chapters that follow discuss men’s and women’s health; ideology of gender and health specifically exploring different social norms and ideas about male and female health and the dominant ideological association between femaleness and caring; working for health with particular focus on the gendered interplay of caring and curing roles; technology and reproductive health; health promotion as a gendered activity and, finally, the importance of introducing an intersectional approach beyond gender to articulate a deeper understanding of health in a post modern context. The concluding chapter draws together these themes to underscore the importance of placing gender at the centre of health and health care delivery to fully take account of both the different life and health experiences of men and women and the gendered dimensions of working in health care.

These issues are discussed against the background of health policy and practice in the countries of the west, particularly focusing on the UK. Whilst the complexity of post-colonial discourses has had a profound impact on health regimes in the developing world, that discussion is beyond the scope of this text. The same discourses, however, contribute to understanding of labour market organisation in the UK health sector and this contributes to the penultimate chapter that considers the relevance of an intersectional approach.

A significant portion of the book discusses the role that gender plays in shaping the experience of occupational/professional roles in the health care sector highlighting the continuing material basis of gender inequality within health care employment. An underpinning feminist analysis is proposed to take account of the real world experience of gender inequality in the labour market for health care workers.

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