Cover for Malka: Daring to Care: American Nursing and Second-Wave Feminism. Click for larger image

Daring to Care

American Nursing and Second-Wave Feminism

The role of feminism in transforming nursing and women's professional identity

Daring to Care examines the impact of second-wave feminism on the nursing field since the 1960s. In arguing that feminism helped to end nursing's subordination to medicine and provided nurses with greater autonomy and professional status, Susan Gelfand Malka discusses two distinct eras in nursing history. The first extended from the mid-1960s to the mid-1980s, when feminism seemed to belittle the occupation in its analysis of gender subordination but also fueled nursing leaders' drive for greater authority and independence. The second era began in the mid-1980s, when feminism grounded in the ethics of care appealed to a much broader group of caregivers and was incorporated into nursing education. While nurses accepted aspects of feminism, they did not necessarily identify as feminists; nonetheless, they used, passed on, and developed feminist ideas, which is evident in nursing school curricula changes and the increase in self-directed and specialized roles available to twenty-first-century expert caregivers.


"Former pediatric nurse Malka writes from the point of view of both a nurse and a historian, providing a rich perspective on the timely issues addressed in the book. Highly recommended."--Choice

"A valuable addition to all levels of nursing and women's studies curricula. It makes the important connection between the evolution of nursing, and feminist thinking and activism."--Women's Review of Books

Daring to Care provides a fresh, valuable perspective on the history of women, feminism, nursing, medicine, and the professions; it should be required reading for anyone interested in the history of American nursing.--The Journal of American History

"Malka's excellent scholarship fills a critical gap in recent history on the nursing profession, and will be useful to those interested in the history of feminism as well as women's, nursing, and medical history."--Susan M. Reverby, professor of women's studies, Wellesley College, and author of Ordered to Care: The Dilemma of American Nursing


Susan Gelfand Malka is a former nurse and nursing instructor who teaches American and women's history at the University of Maryland.

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