Woman In The Surgeon's Body / Edition 1

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Overview

Surgery is the most martial and masculine of medical specialties. The combat with death is carried out in the operating room, where the intrepid surgeon challenges the forces of destruction and disease. What, then, if the surgeon is a woman? Anthropologist Joan Cassell enters this closely guarded arena to explore the work and lives of women practicing their craft in what is largely a man's world.

Cassell observed thirty-three surgeons in five North American cities over the course of three years. We follow these women through their grueling days: racing through corridors to make rounds, perform operations, hold office hours, and teach residents. We hear them, in their own words, discuss their training and their relations with patients, nurses, colleagues, husbands, and children.

Do these women differ from their male colleagues? And if so, do such differences affect patient care? The answers Cassell uncovers are as complex and fascinating as the issues she considers. A unique portrait of the day-to-day reality of these remarkable women, The Woman in the Surgeon's Body is an insightful account of how being female influences the way the surgeon is perceived by colleagues, nurses, patients, and superiors--and by herself.

"The author reveals what issues affect women surgeons and how their sex affects the view taken by their colleagues, patients, and superiors...Cassell spent three years observing 33 surgeons in five American cities."

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Editorial Reviews

Journal of the American Medical Association

[N]ew and provocative...This book should be of interest to women who are surgeons, any woman interested in becoming a surgeon, anyone involved in advising medical students, especially women students, about careers in surgery, and anyone in charge of a surgery training program.
— Sylvia Ramos, M.D.

British Medical Journal

This [is a] riveting study on women surgeons in the United States...The author studied 33 women surgeons of differing ages practising in eastern and mid-western United States. There was a wide representation of career stages and surgical subspecialties. She spent five days spread over a two week period shadowing each surgeon and also conducted structured, tape recorded interviews. She observed relationships with colleagues, patients, nurses, and trainees as well as aspects of family life. The aim of her study was to examine differences between male and female surgeons and the internal and external forces affecting these differences. Each chapter examines a key area and is vividly illustrated with extracts from the taped interviews as well as descriptions and analysis provided by the author. The frantic, fast paced, almost hysterical way of life in an American department of surgery provides an enthralling background. The author sensibly lets the interviewees speak for themselves when she wishes to make a point...I hope that this excellent book is widely read.
— Sarah Creighton

Health

[An] exploration of the world of women surgeons, a world we are drawn into through skillful storytelling...Comfortable with the first person and drawing on 14 years of experiences as an anthropologist reflecting and writing on surgeons, Cassell provides the non-anthropological reader access to the practice of her craft...The author successfully permits our entry into the fascinating, gritty, complex world of women surgeons. The book is well organized and immensely readable. Social scientists will appreciate this exploration of women's place in a male-dominated profession. The structuralists among us will be heartened by the call to refocus our energies from women's 'choices' or coping strategies to the structure of the institution itself.
— Susan W. Hinze

Psychiatric Services
This anthropologist's perspective on the development of women surgeons will ring true in different degrees to all women physicians, and it will add a dimension of understanding and, one hopes, empathy from their male peers.
British Medical Journal - Sarah Creighton
This [is a] riveting study on women surgeons in the United States...The author studied 33 women surgeons of differing ages practising in eastern and mid-western United States. There was a wide representation of career stages and surgical subspecialties. She spent five days spread over a two week period shadowing each surgeon and also conducted structured, tape recorded interviews. She observed relationships with colleagues, patients, nurses, and trainees as well as aspects of family life. The aim of her study was to examine differences between male and female surgeons and the internal and external forces affecting these differences. Each chapter examines a key area and is vividly illustrated with extracts from the taped interviews as well as descriptions and analysis provided by the author. The frantic, fast paced, almost hysterical way of life in an American department of surgery provides an enthralling background. The author sensibly lets the interviewees speak for themselves when she wishes to make a point...I hope that this excellent book is widely read.
Health - Susan W. Hinze
[An] exploration of the world of women surgeons, a world we are drawn into through skillful storytelling...Comfortable with the first person and drawing on 14 years of experiences as an anthropologist reflecting and writing on surgeons, Cassell provides the non-anthropological reader access to the practice of her craft...The author successfully permits our entry into the fascinating, gritty, complex world of women surgeons. The book is well organized and immensely readable. Social scientists will appreciate this exploration of women's place in a male-dominated profession. The structuralists among us will be heartened by the call to refocus our energies from women's 'choices' or coping strategies to the structure of the institution itself.
Psychiatric Services - Carol C. Nadelson
Dr. Cassell has conducted an ethnographic study of 33 women surgeons, following them through their workdays, meeting their families, and interviewing them and others in their lives. Her insights focus on surgery generally and the experience of women surgeons specifically...The author's narrative succeeds in raising essential questions while she recounts the lives and experiences of the women surgeons she has studied with respect, empathy, and admiration.
Beth Ann Ditkoff
I identified closely with many of the women profiled in The Woman In The Surgeon's Body. All of the feelings and emotions I have had regarding my surgical training and practice were so articulately crystalized in Cassell's accounts. It was thrilling for me to read how other women's experiences paralleled my own. This is a wonderfully researched work.
Frances K. Conley
Joan Cassell asks whether a feminine body can be embodied in a surgeon's identity and ethos, and whether there is a difference between the work worlds of male and female surgeons. She studied 33 surgeons in five North American cities, women of varying age, rank, matrimonial and parental status, and from a number of surgical specialties. The result is a lively presentation of professional, dedicated women operating in a world that is not quite sure where and if they really fit. This book should appeal to a readership beyond the anthropologists for whom it is intended.
Journal of the American Medical Association - Sylvia Ramos
[N]ew and provocative...This book should be of interest to women who are surgeons, any woman interested in becoming a surgeon, anyone involved in advising medical students, especially women students, about careers in surgery, and anyone in charge of a surgery training program.
Arthur Kleinman
In this enjoyable, fast-paced ethnography of women surgeons, Cassell emphasizes gender analysis and the anthropological concept of habitus in order to get at the social construction of the experience and the place in that experience of 'difference.' She uses her impressive interview transcripts to round out an effective portrait of women surgeons.
Health
[An] exploration of the world of women surgeons, a world we are drawn into through skillful storytelling...Comfortable with the first person and drawing on 14 years of experiences as an anthropologist reflecting and writing on surgeons, Cassell provides the non-anthropological reader access to the practice of her craft...The author successfully permits our entry into the fascinating, gritty, complex world of women surgeons. The book is well organized and immensely readable. Social scientists will appreciate this exploration of women's place in a male-dominated profession. The structuralists among us will be heartened by the call to refocus our energies from women's 'choices' or coping strategies to the structure of the institution itself.
— Susan W. Hinze
British Medical Journal
This [is a] riveting study on women surgeons in the United States...The author studied 33 women surgeons of differing ages practising in eastern and mid-western United States. There was a wide representation of career stages and surgical subspecialties. She spent five days spread over a two week period shadowing each surgeon and also conducted structured, tape recorded interviews. She observed relationships with colleagues, patients, nurses, and trainees as well as aspects of family life. The aim of her study was to examine differences between male and female surgeons and the internal and external forces affecting these differences. Each chapter examines a key area and is vividly illustrated with extracts from the taped interviews as well as descriptions and analysis provided by the author. The frantic, fast paced, almost hysterical way of life in an American department of surgery provides an enthralling background. The author sensibly lets the interviewees speak for themselves when she wishes to make a point...I hope that this excellent book is widely read.
— Sarah Creighton
Journal of the American Medical Association
[N]ew and provocative...This book should be of interest to women who are surgeons, any woman interested in becoming a surgeon, anyone involved in advising medical students, especially women students, about careers in surgery, and anyone in charge of a surgery training program.
— Sylvia Ramos, M.D.
Journal of the American Medical Association
This book should be of interest to women who are surgeons, any woman interested in becoming a surgeon, anyone involved in advising medical students, especially women students, about careers in surgery, and anyone in charge of a surgery training program. Male surgeons may also find it of value, especially if they have noted and are open to exploring gender-related issues and problems in the world of surgery.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780674004078
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press
  • Publication date: 10/16/2000
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 282
  • Sales rank: 832,712
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.59 (d)

Meet the Author

Joan Cassell is a Research Associate in Anthropology, Washington University, and the author of Expected Miracles: Surgeons at Work.
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Table of Contents

  1. What's an Anthropologist Doing Studying Surgeons?
  2. Bodies of Difference
  3. Telling Stories
  4. Women Leading
  5. Forging the Iron Surgeon
  6. The Gender of Care
  7. A Greedy Institution
  8. A Worst-Case Scenario
  9. Surgeons in This Day and Age

  • Notes
  • References
  • Index

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 29, 2000

    A good bit of information for women surgeons and their spouses.

    As the husband of a soon-to-be surgical resident, once I got past the discussion of research methodologies and the justifications thereof, I found the information gleaned from the stories to be of great value for what I should anticipate during my wife's training and career. However, a five-star rating was not warranted because the author spends more time than I felt necessary trying to give a cursory education on her research methods and theory. For those of us who like to cut to the chase and get to the meat of the stories from which I gleaned the most valuable information, skimming the first several chapters is advised. (And for future reference, the author should divide the chapters into separate sections so that the not-concerned-with-all-the-little-details-of-anthropology portion of her audience may skip over the quasi-academic portions without thinking we missed necessary content.) Nevertheless, the perspectives presented are invaluable to ANYONE contemplating the career of a surgeon as well as those married to or thinking of commencing a relationship with a surgeon or surgeon-to-be.

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