Veiled ambitions: Female muslim medical students and their different experiences in medical education.

P Verdonk, Hannah Leyerzapf, Hajar Rifi, Tineke Abma, Tineke Abma

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterAcademicpeer-review


Background: In North-Western Europe, medical student populations are both feminised and increasingly culturally diverse. Students with a migrantbackground, particularly female Muslim students and especially thosewearing a headscarf, are very visible in medical school, but little is knownabout their experiences with in- and exclusion.Aim: The study aimed at generating bottom-up insight from a critical intersectionality approach in order to support political voice of these students and provide starting points for inclusion of cultural diversity in medical education.Method: A qualitative interview study (n = 14) focused on the experiences offemale Muslim students in the Bachelor’s- and Master’s phases at VUmc School of Medical Sciences. Thematic analysis was performed.Findings: We found three domains of experienced difference:1. leading a different student life; 2. being (considered) a different medical student; and3. anticipating being a different physician. Students are identified, as well as self-identify as different. Balancing work is needed in order to fit in and be considered a good student. Experiences of Othering through microaggressions and everyday racism and segregation between students with a migrant background and those without, are at play.Conclusion: The findings reflect dominant norms on what it takes to be a normal/good medical student and physician.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationScholarly Engagement and Decolonization. Views from South Africa, The Netherlands and the United States.
EditorsMaurice Crul, Liezl Dick, Halleh Ghorashi, A Valenzuela Jr
PublisherSunMedia Publishers
Number of pages26
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • female Muslim students; medical education; visibility of difference; professional normativity & Othering in academic medicine; inclusion

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