How Hegemonic Masculinity can be Undermined: Gender Hierarchies and Power Relations in the Operating Room

Ulrike Tikvah Kissmann


The present article describes the introduction of information and communication technologies in the operating rooms of two hospitals. It explores gender practices within the occupational groups of the OR and how they evolved during computerization. Drawing upon the theoretical framework of workplace studies video shooting and video analysis is used to study computer expertise that the personnel developed as a result of their day-to-day practices. The article shows that computer expertise is treated as a status characteristic in the first hospital and only those with higher status are authorized to use the computer-supported information system to acquire prestige and to exert influence. In contrast to this, computer expertise does not function as a status characteristic in the second hospital. Here, computerized tasks are equated with assisting activities and are devalued. The paper examines the conditions under which computer expertise forms an amalgamation with gender and profession. It explains how existing gender hierarchies and power relations were restructured in the first hospital and how they were stabilized in the second hospital.


ICT; video; medicine; nursing; hegemonic masculinity

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