Monday, 4 March 2013

Some thoughts on cultural diversity.

The Barrier of Dominant Professional Culture.

Pondering cultural diversity led me to consider the impact of culture and cultural diversity not only as it pertains to learners but also how it affects the educators.

Most staff who work in the School of Midwifery are midwives. Midwifery as a profession has a distinct culture which is in part created by the philosophical underpinnings of the profession; feminism and partnership being central tenants accompanied with the culture created by autonomy and self- reliance.

Thus as midwifery educators we look to embed these strong cultural influences into the midwifery programme. This is done on many levels from expectations of students to course content and delivery as well as the likes of assessment tasks and principles. The theory behind this is that as we try to ‘grow’ new midwives there is an acknowledgment that the making of a midwife is not just about the transfer of clinical knowledge, but a much broader concept of growing a learner to be confident, competent and willing to embrace the culture of the profession.

After considering the material in module 4 of the Flexible Learning course I have begun to wonder about how this, for want of a better word, assimilation of student midwives into the dominant midwifery culture may in fact create cultural barriers which impede diversity within the profession. For while one can see the history and thinking behind why midwifery has this culture, it is overtly dominant and may disadvantage a learner who was not prepared to adopt its mantle.

Therefore somewhat strangely I find myself thinking that professional midwifery culture may be a barrier to learner cultural diversity in midwifery students.
A study of some of the more practical and logistical barriers to diversity and some supports around these will be considered in my next blog........coming to a screen near you very soon.


  1. Hi Emma,
    I hope you don't mind, but I've referenced your post on my blog:

    You got me thinking about some aspects of diversity I hadn't considered in this context!
    Despite my tongue-in-cheek comments I've enjoyed following these thought processes :)
    Talk soon,

  2. An excellent point for consideration Emma: "professional midwifery culture may be a barrier to learner cultural diversity in midwifery students".

    Is it fair to say that if students are not able to become: "confident, competent and willing to embrace the culture of the profession", then perhaps the profession is not for them? Can't people still make changes from within once they learn to work the system?

    Isn't that what all education is about - learning to work the system? It appears to me that the way that vocational educational institutions are structured is so that we can prepare employable graduates to meet what industries and professions need and want. I am looking forward to seeing what you suggest might be a solution to this dilemma.