The Woman In The Surgeon's Body Summary

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The purpose of ethnographic research study is to close the gap between an outsider's understanding of social order and the actual meaning of life experience to those who are being studied. In The Woman in the Surgeon’s Body, anthropologist Joan Cassell explores the job experiences and lives of women who work in what is considered to be a “man’s world”. Cassell observed thirty-three surgeons from five cities in the eastern and midwestern regions in the United States over the course of three years. She spent five days with each surgeon, shadowing her, and conducting tape-recorded interviews. Cassell inquires whether a feminine body can be embodied in a surgeon’s identity and philosophy, and to examine the differences between male and female surgeons…show more content…
She observed the women as they made their rounds, performed operations, and taught students, thus utilizing “participant observation” as one method of study. She asks a number of questions about the training the women received, their relationships with their colleagues, patients, and families. Through these experiences, the author was able to present narrative accounts of the surgeon's’ experiences in surgery. Styles of leadership and teaching were examined, followed by a focus on the idea of the iron surgeon, the masculine ethos, and its consequences for the women who work in medical care. Cassell even delves into the stereotyped images of women physicians, and the issues with them. She argues that surgery has been socially constructed as male. The women surgeons do experience hostility and conflicts with their mentors, male colleagues, and sometimes, even patients. She presents…show more content…
She shows the differences and the principles of female surgeons and, in the process of doing so she exposes her own commitment to the anthropological study of gender. Cassell shares her findings through skillful storytelling; she explains the complex world of women surgeons whether it is the women at home with their families, or anytime throughout the workday. Her insights focus mostly on surgery and the experience of the woman surgeon specifically. Although ironic, I believe that only a female anthropologist could have done this study (as successfully as Cassell). It is problematic to envision a man gaining the confidence and the trust of the female surgeons interviewed to get such raw and truthful images that portray the real life experiences of these

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