Resisting gender-bias: Insights from Western Australian middle-level women nurses

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An integrated feminist postmodernist ethnography was applied to explore the experiences of eight women nurses working in the corporate sector and/or management in public hospitals in Western Australia. Data were collected through participant observation, the researcher’s field notes and journal and through semi-structured critical conversations. Data were analysed by the application of a trifocal analytic method (Glass & Davis, 2004; Savage, 2000b). This approach, consistent with the methodology, examined the data at multiple levels by applying realist, feminist and feminist postmodern lens which allowed the data to remain relevant to each participant, avoided objectifying the participants and uncovered knowledge relevant to the nursing profession. The findings revealed what it meant to be a nurse functioning within a corporate setting. Three culturally-constructed discourses emerged: values attributed to nursing, bureaucratic managerialism and medical science. The first was found to be empowering but the other two revealed evidence of patriarchal and oppressive behaviours by both medical staff and senior nurses. The findings also revealed that the nurses were sometimes unaware of the oppression they were subject to. The nurses avoided confronting their oppressors preferring strategies revealed as creep up/creep in. Discussion focuses upon the implications of the research project findings for senior and executive nurse leaders and managers and which may evoke a sense of commonality for women in general. The implications are that nurses could apply self-managing strategies in order to resist gendered oppression in senior-level workplace relationships. The authors recommend that more research and publications are needed that reveal and celebrate women’s every-day exemplar empowering leadership practices.


School of Nursing, Midwifery & Paramedicine

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Journal Article

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