PhD Studentship: Midwifery, Gender, and Professional Identities: Exploring the Professional Identities of Midwives in the Context of Gender Diversity and Inclusion

Coventry University

Midwifery services have historically focussed upon women with related etymology, such as maternity (maternal: from French maternel/maternelle, from Latin maternus, from mater ‘mother’) and midwifery (Middle English: ‘with woman’). Midwifery’s raison d’etre has therefore traditionally been understood as assisting childbearing women. The midwifery profession itself is one of the last almost mono-gendered professions in which the gendered term ‘midwife’ is now considered to be limited in its ability to include people of all genders and none. This poses challenges for midwives, as the development and retention of a healthy professional identity is considered to be the cornerstone of professionalism in healthcare.

Findings from the supervisory teams’ preliminary work in this area indicate that the strong identification of midwifery as a women’s profession being ‘with women’ appeared in some cases to be a barrier to the inclusivity of service users who do not identify as women, leading to a range of adverse outcomes (e.g., service users forced to choose between embracing their core human rights to gender identity, and their sexual and reproductive health). The aims of this project will be to:

  • Explore relationships between the midwifery profession and gender identity
  • Critically examine midwives’ everyday rhetorical discourse in relation to midwifing childbearing trans men and non-binary people
  • Develop an in depth understanding of midwives’ professional identity in the context of midwifing those who do not identify as women
  • Building on previous findings, this research will combine systematic approaches to reviewing the literature, netnography and hermeneutic phenomenology to push new understandings and a reimagining of the ‘midwifery’ professions’ identity and perinatal services.

    The successful candidate will also craft their own methodological toolbox that best addresses research objectives. Creative methodological designs and the sharing of research findings via creative and novel mediums will be encouraged to stimulate a reimagining of midwives’ professional identity, midwifery work and perinatal services.

    Applications from minority ethnic groups and gender and sexuality minority groups (LGBTQIA+) are particularly encouraged.

    Entry criteria for applicants to PhD  

    • A bachelor’s (honours) degree in a relevant discipline/subject area with a minimum classification of 2:1 and a minimum mark of 60% in the project element (or equivalent), or an equivalent award from an overseas institution.
    • the potential to engage in innovative research and to complete the PhD within 3.5 years 
    • An adequate proficiency in English must be demonstrated by applicants whose first language is not English.  The general requirement is a minimum overall IELTS Academic score of 7.0 with a minimum of 6.5 in each of the four sections, or the TOEFL iBT test with a minimum overall score of 95 with a minimum of 21 in each of the four sections. 

    For further details please visit:  

    To find out more about the project please contact Dr Sally Pezaro ([email protected] )

    All applications require full supporting documentation, and a covering letter – plus the following: 

    • An up-to 2000-word supporting statement is required showing how the applicant’s expertise and interests are relevant to the project. 

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