Gender, history, and the medicalization of childbirth: the exhibition “Women and Health Practices”

Abstract With the institutionalization of medicine in childbirth there came about a shift in gender roles. In the late nineteenth century, at the same time as midwives’ work was being marginalized and discredited, women were fighting to gain access to university-level medical education. In the first half of the twentieth century, there was a marked scarcity of women at medical faculties, and the work of midwives was important, especially in hospital settings. Part of this history is contained in the exhibition “Women and Health Practices” at the Museum of the History of Medicine of Rio Grande do Sul. We highlight the value given to this knowledge and these practices amongst the Brazilian population by means of informal education at museums.