Student Research Projects

The Socialization of Women through Midwifery

Student Latoya Mack
Faculty Mentor(s)
Department History
Course HIST 353: History of Women in Europe Since 1700


In England during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the practice of childbirth was entirely in the hands of women. Midwifery was a practice dominated by women as both clients and practitioners. Women understood the emphasis that society placed on childbearing and childrearing, which guaranteed the survival of their society’s culture. Women dominated midwifery because it provided them with access to specialized training and education in relation to the reproductive system. As a result of this specialized training and education, midwives became experts in the field of obstetrics. However, women dominated midwifery by persistently excluding men.

This paper explains how women became the preferred gender for the professionalization of midwifery. It also describes the ceremony of childbirth by analyzing the key rituals as they relate to the feminine world and feminine spaces. Finally, it explains how the ceremony of childbirth socialized women into the feminine world.