Bettina Schwind

Country: Germany, Date of birth: 1975
Researcher, Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute (Swiss TPH)

Supported Project: “Women and Gynaecology in Evaluation"

“Female Gynaecologists make a Difference”

Up to the 1970s, almost all gynaecologists were men. Today, more than half or all gynaecologists are women. Recent studies indicate that female gynaecologists show a more patient-centred communication style than male gynaecologists. That is where Bettina Schwind’s PhD study started off. In her research, supported by the R. Geigy Foundation, she explored how and why such differences between female and male gynaecologists exist. She showed that female gynaecologists differ from their male colleagues in their diagnostic and treatment approaches. Rather than offering (bio)medical treatment or deciding over the best therapy, female gynaecologists understand the consultation as a more integrative and holistic process. Some of these differences can be explained by varying gendered professional identities. Whereas male doctors’ technical and diagnostic specialisations led them to become gynaecologists, women deliberately chose to specialise in gynaecology because they experienced the hospital environment during their medical training as detrimental to women’s health. For her qualitative study Schwind interviewed gynaecologists and female patients and participated in over thirty consultations in outpatient gynaecological practice settings in the wider Basel region.