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    “Sex Prejudice” and professional identity: women Doctors and their patients in Britain’s Interwar VD Service

    Hanley, Anne (2020) “Sex Prejudice” and professional identity: women Doctors and their patients in Britain’s Interwar VD Service. Journal of Social History 54 (2), pp. 569-598. ISSN 0022-4529.

    “Sex Prejudice” and Professional Identity. Women Doctors and their Patients in Britain’s Interwar VD Service.pdf - Author's Accepted Manuscript

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    The 1920s witnessed a radical approach to sexual health in Britain, and women doctors quickly capitalized on the opportunities offered by the new VD Service. Because venereology was considered to be low status, it was among the few interwar specialisms that offered footholds to women. In view of the long-standing aversion to female engagement with subjects like VD, the large numbers of women doctors entering the VD Service seems puzzling. But as this article reveals, their clinical work was facilitated by rapid shifts in social and medical attitudes towards the treatment of VD as well as the role of women in public life. By exploring how these women navigated the shifting terrain of interwar public health, it deconstructs the notion that venereology was principally a male sphere of clinical practice and research. Moreover, it presents an important counterpoint to the narrative of women’s bodies subordinated to male medical authority. Although the individual lives of these women remain frustratingly elusive, a prosopographical study of their careers allows us to chart their professional networks and clinical activities. We can see how they appropriated prevailing moral codes and styled themselves as guardians of the nation’s health. At its heart, this article demonstrates how women established identities within a profession that remained inherently masculine. Moreover, it opens up new perspectives on the provision of care and the gendered politics of sexual health in a period of profound economic and social change.


    Item Type: Article
    Additional Information: This is a pre-copyedited, author-produced PDF of an article accepted for publication following peer review. The version of record is available online at the link above.
    Keyword(s) / Subject(s): Medical Women’s Federation, Sexual health, Socialized medicine, Professional identity, Gender politics
    School: Birkbeck Faculties and Schools > Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > School of Historical Studies
    Depositing User: Anne Hanley
    Date Deposited: 04 Apr 2019 14:12
    Last Modified: 02 Aug 2023 17:50


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