Date of Award

1-1-1999

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Health Science

School

Health Studies

Faculty

Faculty of Communications, Health and Science

First Advisor

Dr. Lynne Hunt

Abstract

The purpose of this phenomenological study is to explore and describe the lived experience of women's health centre coordinators. In addition to the intrinsic value of telling these women's stories, this research provides data which can he used to strengthen the economic, political, organisational and social position of women’s health centres and the women who work in them. Four women managers from regional urban women's health centres in Australia were interviewed about their subjective experiences with respect to their current working roles. Interviews were audio taped, transcribed and coded to produce themes and to preserve anonymity. Data was analysed using Colaizzi’s phenomenological method. Credibility and validity of data was enhanced by the use of multiple interviews, member checks, a pilot study and a clearly identifiable audit trail. The findings of the study reveal that the main themes relating to the experience of women's health centre coordinators are: the importance of shared principles, passions and rewards: their feminist leadership role as managers of a specialist health service; working with the wider system: and the demanding nature of their job. Theoretical sensitivity is demonstrated by re-analysing the emergent themes and descriptions obtained from the data- against the backdrop of the current social, economic and political climate of women's health in Australia. This second order analysis reveals the processes and strategies employed by women’s health centre coordinators in carrying out their work, and highlights the many factors that have influenced their development as feminist managers. Furthermore, the findings suggest that the experience of women's health centre coordinators in this study parallels those of feminist managers elsewhere, and as such, this thesis represents a significant contribution to the dearth of literature on women managers working in feminist, consumer-based organisations.

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