Historisk Tidskrift. Utgiven av Svenska historiska föreningen
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Historisk tidskrift 127:2 • 2007

Innehåll (Contents) 2007:2

Uppsatser (Articles)

Apotek som arbetsmarknad. Institutionell förändring och feminisering av apotek i Sverige

Maria Stanfors och Klas Öberg

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Institutional and occupational change in Swedish Pharmacy: a story of feminization

In this paper, we describe and explain the feminization of pharmacies and the pharmacist profession in twentieth-century Sweden. We investigate economic, institutional as well as cultural determinants of the feminization process and find that there are mainly two sets of factors that have caused major changes in the gender composition of the Swedish pharmacist profession: one economic and one institutional. The economic reason for feminization is the change in the incentive structure for women and men for becoming pharmacists. Because the pay level has fallen relative to comparable professions, the gender wage gap has narrowed and working conditions have changed fundamentally. The institutional explanation for feminization points to the changes in the work organization that affected gender relations. Furthermore, the gender of certain work tasks changed. Finally, formal institutional bars were removed that enabled women both to get a pharmaceutical education and to work in a pharmacy. The formal bars were removed in the late 1920s and since then, in concert with a gradually changing work organization, the construction of gender in the workplace changed.

Swedish pharmacies were feminized both quantitatively and qualitatively, first at the lower positions, then at the higher. Since the 1970s, even the top managerial positions underwent feminization, which makes the case of pharmacies somewhat different from a number of other professions and occupations where feminization mainly has taken place at the lower levels of the occupational hierarchy.

Our historically oriented study refute the commonly widespread opinion that feminization leads to a degrading of an occupation or a skill. The case of feminization of Swedish pharmacies shows the importance of historical knowledge in order to better understand the gender division of labor and segregation in the labor market of today.


pharmacy, institutional change, feminization, gender, organization