The Promise of Unpaid Domestic Labor and its Relationship to Medical Residency

Document Type


Publication Date


Academic Year



In 1975 Silvia Federici published her seminal essay “Wages Against Housework”, critically analyzing the reliance of capitalism on the free domestic labor of women. In the essay, she observes that the toil of housework is, in fact, “labor”, and hence makes the strong case for demanding wages for such work. Since 1975, little has changed in terms of domestic work. It is still largely either unwaged or undervalued and the burden of it still falls disproportionately on women. Meanwhile, medical residency, and its male dominated history, has taken advantage of this economic freebie in its design: a design that persists today and largely denies women the possibility of achieving economic equality in the field of medicine. Through this literature review, I hope to convey the current dearth of feminist theoretical scholarship critically analyzing the history of medical residency. I believe this lacuna opens up a significant opportunity for novel approaches in applying Marxist feminist theory to critical discourse analyzing medical institutional history in the United States. The COVID-19 pandemic has only furthered a sense of urgency in interrogating questions of labor rights within medicine. In this time in history it is imperative we learn from the past as a way to advocate for a better and more just labor environment in our future. I hope through this discourse analysis we might gain a stronger understanding of the gender inequalities that persist in the medical profession despite having reached near-parity in gender medical school graduation rates.



This document is currently not available here.