No Room for Balancing: Mothers and Professors in Czech Maternity Hospitals


  • Iva Šmídová Masaryk University

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The paper analyses the complex issue of work-life balance in the medical setting of Czech maternity hospitals. The issue of work-life balance has not been dealt with adequately; the organisation of professional careers in medicine is understood in terms of making sacrifices for the profession. However, analysis of the everyday lives of members of the profession provides insight into the practices and strategies that are adopted for coping with demanding work and gender prejudices, and the striving to create a satisfactory personal life. The article targets the structural mechanisms that reproduce Czech hospital gender regimes and their effects on work-life balance according to the individual coping strategies of the actors involved. These are conceptually framed using the symbolic system of the gender universe (Harding, 1987) and the theory of gendered organisations (Acker, 1990). The empirical data used in the analysis comes from qualitative research (2011-2014) into Czech reproductive medicine, specifically obstetrics. It is primarily based on in-depth interviews with senior physicians, although other data sources were also utilised. Physicians’ own reflections of the current status quo in Czech hospitals are critically assessed and framed in a structural context with reference to the broader social mechanisms that re/produce gender in/equality in the labour market.

Author Biography

Iva Šmídová, Masaryk University

Doc. PhDr. Iva Šmídová, Ph.D. is a sociologist at the Department of Sociology, Faculty of Social Studies, Masaryk University, Brno, Czech Republic. She has worked in the field of gender studies since the early 1990s, being the head of the university Gender Studies unit in 2005-2009. Her research studies include topics ranging from families where fathers nurture, to equal opportunities in Czech companies, anticipation of chances at the labour market when making an educational choice, or a recent analysis of practices in Czech Reproductive medicine (obstetrics). Her long term specialisation within gender studies is Critical Studies on Men and Masculinities.


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Work-life balance/imbalance: Individual, Organizational and Social Experiences