Against the odds : a social history of African women medical doctors in South Africa, 1940s-2000s.
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This thesis focuses on the lives of six women medical doctors of African ethnicity, from the 1940s to the 2000s. These women are of different generations and were all born in South Africa. They trained in South Africa and have worked in a variety of institutions across the country. It investigates how the profession of medicine has evolved over time and what role a changing political climate has had on the development of the medical profession; particularly in terms of race and gender. It considers the broad historical context within which South Africa’s general medical training and professional development took place during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. It then looks at the early lives of the six interviewees, which include their childhood and later motivations to study medicine. It also investigates the medical training experiences of these African women doctors. The lives and experiences of black women doctors after they graduated from medical school with a Bachelor of Medicine (MBChB) degree, during the apartheid period, is also discussed. Their training experiences, internship experiences and the experiences of their working lives in post-apartheid South Africa is a focus of this study too. Finally, it considers the impact of recent political transformation on the racial, gendered and class dimensions of the medical profession.