Gender and general practice: the single-handed woman General Practitioner

  • Barbara Lawrence

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


This research examines women GPs' careers, how they run their practices
and how they reconcile professional and domestic lives. It looks at the
particular experiences of women GPs who practise alone, and at the
pressures in past practice experience which have led them to do so. It is
argued that many of the problems of group practice which can be identified
are attributable to gender. For example, one reason given for entering
general practice is a desire to be able to provide the full range of medical
care and not to specialise. Women GPs, however, may find themselves
seeing more women patients for "women's problems" and children than they
would freely choose. Women have not entered general practice in order to
specialise in these areas of medicine. Indeed, if they had wanted to
specialise in obstetrics, gynaecology or paediatrics they would have had
difficulty advancing very far in these male-dominated areas of hospital
Other gender related problems exist for women in general practice and
practising single-handedly is one strategy that women GPs have used to
counter the problems of working in male-dominated practices and
partnerships. However, the twenty-four hour commitment of single-handed
practice may bring further pressures in reconciling this with responsibility
for home life. Out-of-hours cover, which can be viewed as the link
between professional and domestic life, where the one intrudes into the
other, is also examined in terms of the gender issues it raises. The
interaction of gender and ethnicity is also considered for the 11 Asian
women GPs in the study.
Interviews were conducted with 29 single-handed women GPs in the
Midlands. In addition, some cases were studied in greater depth by being
observed in their surgeries and on home visits for a day each. A
qualitative/feminist approach to analysis has been employed.

Date of Award1987
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorDavid Podmore (Supervisor)


  • Gender
  • general practice
  • single-handed woman
  • General Practitioner

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