263.3 Skill, gender and race: Shaping the labour market for chemical and anatomical pathologists in KwaZulu-natal

Thursday, August 2, 2012: 11:15 AM
Faculty of Economics, TBA
Oral Presentation
Shaun RUGGUNAN , Human Resources Management, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa
The aim of this paper is to assess the ways in which skill, gender and race shape the labour market for anatomical pathologists and chemical pathologists in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. In 2011, in-depth interviews were conducted with 11 anatomical pathologists and 9 chemical pathologists in KZN. My first finding is that even though both specialities are an outcome of equivalent years of training, the diagnostic work of anatomical pathologists is dependent on diagnosis by ‘eye’. The diagnostic work performed by chemical pathologists is more technologically dependent and less dependent on interpretation by ‘ eye ‘. New technologies have not deskilled the interpretive work of anatomical pathologists but are perceived to have deskilled the work of chemical pathologists. The value of interpretation by sight instead of machine is reflected in the higher salaries paid to anatomical pathologists. Secondly, the labour market for anatomical pathologists is dominated by men, whilst the labour market for chemical pathologists is dominated by women. The increasing role of technology in routinizing the work of chemical pathologists has resulted in the profession enjoying more working time flexibility. This is cited as an important reason by women for choice of the profession. Intersecting with skill and gender in shaping the labour market is race. African doctors do not view laboratory specialities as offering quick occupational returns. This is compounded by racism in the sector. This is an important contribution to understanding how skill, technology, gender and race intersect to form labour markets of highly skilled professionals.