Women´s Ambitions in Post-Soviet Professional Environments. Being a physician, a surgeon, a scientist, a mother, and a wife
VU KHF Insitute for Social Research Vilnius, Lithuania
Swedish School of Social Sciences University of Helsinki Helsinki, Finland
The paper describes the ambitions of women who work in a highly feminized profession (medicine), but in a highly masculine specialty?surgery?in a post-Soviet country (Lithuania). The paper addresses three questions. First, what kinds of ambitions does a woman physician-surgeon have in a post-Soviet society? Second, how do professional women-surgeons articulate and rationalize their ambitions? Third, how does post-Soviet reality shape a woman surgeon?s ambitions?
The data used in this paper consist of semi-structured interviews which were conducted with male and female Lithuanian physicians (N=36) in 2005. A total of 15 surgeons were interviewed, of whom eight were men and seven were women. This paper is based on five interviews with the most ambitious women-surgeons working in science related medical institutions.
Results of thematic discourse analysis of these five interviews demonstrate that the women surgeons have similar ambitions to those found in other societies: the main targets of the ambition in post-Soviet medicine are professional development, career achievement, and family life. Furthermore, the women surgeons were inclined to degrade their ambitions. Such a narrative can be interpreted as a way for these women to survive in surgery, which is a highly male-dominated professional environment. Specific post-Soviet reality related aspects are present in the women?s narratives fragmentary.