Acceptable Discrimination: The Challenge Of A Male Nurse
Nursing offers good pay, fulfilling and challenging work, and job opportunity nearly anywhere. Nursing is one of the professions least affected by recession. In this economy, with record breaking unemployment rates, the male presence in this high demand occupation remains seriously low. Male nurses make up less than 10% of the nursing population. The stigma associated with the society-labeled “female profession” seems to be the only explanation.
Men with the courage to ignore these labels, and go forth with their careers in nursing, report barriers such as discrimination. This claim seems to be supported by the fact that a Google search for the term “Male Nurse” offers “Male Nurse Jokes” as one of the first drop down options (second only to salary). This is telling of how commonplace the stigma actually is. A gender-barrier that is not only commonplace, but seemingly socially acceptable.
Females breaking into male dominated professions also report discrimination. However, the glaring difference seems to be the over-whelming support by other females. They are seen as trailblazers. The opposite is true for males in female dominated professions. Often they are viewed as feminine. To poke humor at, or make insinuations regarding sexual preference is not unusual, especially by other males.
Should male nurses work in labor and delivery?
This is a great debate that has opposers arguing that it is against the comfort of the patients. As long as it is deemed appropriate to argue against well-trained, educated professionals doing a job they are capable of, male nurses are likely to feel the bias sting. Male doctors are common in delivery rooms, which poses the question as to why male nurses wouldn’t be as readily accepted. Blatant gender discrimination seems more allowable to the less esteemed in this particular instance.
Historically, nursing was not a female job. Nursing was a predominantly male profession until the early 1900’s. However, it is Florence Nightingale that is the most historical figure in the field. Florence Nightingale has a well deserved place in history. Her better defined role and methods of teaching are still embraced today. Ironically, at the time of Nightingale’s pursuit of nursing, she had to overcome societal views on who the role belonged to. It was rebellion, and against the wishes of her family to enter nursing rather than a respectable marriage.
Just as the times have changed before and after Nightingale, they continue to do so. Our minds are changed by time, by what we see as normal. As today’s male nurses continue to build in numbers, so they will in strength as well. Eventually a time will inevitably come that nursing will be seen as a profession for both genders. Will our children or grandchildren know that this was once deemed a female profession?
Generations before us experienced segregation that we will never know. History proves we are expected to deliver progression to the generations that come after us. Male nurses are a fine example of how a burden carried by others open doors for those who have yet to arrive.
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