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  • Anne T. Vosler CNM, MSN,

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    • Anne Vosler completed her nurse-midwifery and master's degree studies at the Yale University School of Nursing Nurse-Midwifery Program. This article is based upon a two-semester tutorial emanating from her question about the effect of nurse-midwifery on gender roles and upon a senior thesis submitted for her major in women's studies at Yale College, from which she received her B.A. She is currently a staff nurse-midwife at Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas, Texas.

  • Helen Varney Burst CNM, MSN, DHL (Hon.), FACNM

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    • Helen Varney Burst obtained her M.S.N. and certificate in nurse-midwifery from Yale University School of Nursing, where she is now professor. A past-president of the American College of Nurse-Midwives and author of the textbook Nurse-Midwifery, she was the tutor for the two semesters of nurse-midwifery history, issues, and politics that comprised the first author's tutorial, and was first advisor for the senior thesis upon which this article is based.

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Nurse-midwives both reinforce and subvert American constructs of gender roles. They do this both within the context of their relationship with the medical establishment and within the context of their relationship with women and families they serve. The authors explore this paradox through an examination of American society's historical and present constructs of gender role, the ways in which the medical profession has absorbed and prescribed these constructs, the effect of these constructs on medical and nurse-midwifery childbirth management of care, and, within the contextual framework thus established, the role of nurse-midwives in reinforcing and subverting traditional gender role constructs. Finally, the impact of this paradox on the provision of nurse-midwifery care to women and families is explored.