Gendered experiences of work environment : A study of stress and ambiguity among dental students in Sweden

Detta är en avhandling från Umeå : Umeå universitet

Sammanfattning: This thesis explores how dental students experience their education. We aim to generate ways to understand which elements relate to the students’ experience based on current theories and models regarding the quality of working life and gender (and) power relations.  Methods Twelve interviews with Umeå dental students in their clinical semesters were analysed with a Grounded Theory (GT) as well as a content analysis approach. A web-survey was sent to all clinical dental students in Sweden (P ≈ 805) with a response rate of 40% (p = 322). The quantitative methods included structural equation modelling and cluster analysis.Results The GT analysis resulted in the core category “Experiencing ambiguity,” that captured the student’s role-ambiguity. Central categories focused on perceived stress and performance assessment in relation to ambiguous inner and outer demands. The content analysis resulted in three categories: “Notions of inequalities,” “Gendering,” and “The student position.” These categories present the ways groups of students are constructed in relation to the student/dentist norm and social gender relations, and how women and men of foreign descent risk subordination and stereotyping. The SEM-model contained psychosocial work environment, tolerance for ambiguity, perceived stress, and student satisfaction. Work environment influenced both perceived stress and satisfaction, and stood for almost all of the explained variance in perceived stress for women, indicating that women are constructed as co-responsible for the work environment. About half of the variance for the men was explained by tolerance for ambiguity, indicating that the feeling of uncertainty may lead to stress in men who include “being in control” in their gender identity. The cluster analysis resulted in a six-cluster solution ranging from “The fresh and positive” to “The worn critiques.” Psychosocial work environment again appeared to be the main factor. Gender also appears to be a factor as the gender distribution in the best as well as the two worst clusters differs from the population.Conclusion Work environment stands out among the factors that relate to the students wellbeing and satisfaction, but the student group is heterogeneous and the ways students perceive their work environment relate to different processes and experiences. We suggest that the ways gender and ethnicity appear to be constructed in relation to the sociocultural gender power relations and the (traditional) medical hierarchy could be of importance for how the students’ experience their psychosocial work environment.

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