Voices of Diversity in Midwifery: A Qualitative Research Study


  • Holly Powell Kennedy CNM, PhD,

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    • Holly Powell Kennedy, CNM, PhD, FACNM, is Co-Director of the UCSF/SFGH Interdepartmental Nurse-Midwifery Education Program in San Francisco.

  • Debra Erickson-Owens CNM, MS,

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    • Debra Erickson-Owens, CNM, MS, at the time of this study, was the Director of the Graduate Program in Nurse-Midwifery at the University of Rhode Island and the URI Center for Midwifery at Memorial Hospital of Rhode Island.

  • Jo Anne P. Davis CNM

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    • Jo Anne P. Davis, CNM, at the time of this study, was the Lead Midwife at Adena Health System, Chillicothe, Ohio.

Holly Powell Kennedy, CNM, PhD, Department of FHCN, Room N411Y, 2 Koret Way, Box 0606, University of California, San Francisco, CA 94143. E-mail: holly.kennedy@nursing.ucsf.edu


The practice of midwifery reflects the spectrum of diversity among midwives and the women they serve, yet the composition of midwives in ACNM does not reflect the diversity of the women for whom they provide care. Providing culturally appropriate care for women requires our best understanding of their beliefs, needs, and desires; it also requires a wide range of diverse clinicians. This study proposed to learn more about the practice of midwifery from a diverse sample of midwives. A qualitative research design, which included small group interviews, videotape collection of data, and content analysis, was used. Four major themes were identified: 1) the worldview of midwifery through the lens of diversity, 2) the experience of diversity, 3) midwifery strategies rooted in diversity, and 4) the legacy for the profession of midwifery. There must be purposeful action by every individual in the profession, as well as the collective voice of midwifery, to identify barriers to inclusiveness and to foster a culture of diversity through respect, recruitment, and mentoring.