You’ve probably heard about the current nursing shortage that’s creating in-demand jobs for anyone with a nursing degree. However, despite a remarkably low unemployment rate of about 2.2% and high starting wages, there are still very few men entering the field. In fact, it might surprise you to learn that only about 10% of registered nurses are males. As unlikely as that sounds in today’s world of equality, it seems that ongoing discrimination is not the sole cause of this profound discrepancy. Instead, there are three key factors that together have shaped nursing into a predominantly female occupation:
1. Cultural Conditioning
It appears that the old-fashioned gender biases of the early 1900s have lingered around in the nursing field. Back in 1970, only 2.7% of nurses were male. That statistic alone illustrates how strongly the stereotype of the female nurse was ingrained into the popular mind, and that’s before you start looking at how the media and movies depicted nurses being only females from the earliest days of film history. Even after many of the feminist movements of the 60s and 70s pushed for so-called gender equality, men themselves continued to avoid the nursing profession due to the sustained cultural conditioning that occurred as a result of the previous century’s more traditional, gender-role-based society. Nowadays it’s also easier for men to study for a nurse practitioner degree online using distance learning solutions like Bradley University, so that takes away from some of the on-campus stigma as well.
2. Male Interests and Peer Pressure
There’s no denying that males have historically represented dominance in conventional societal structure, so it’s not surprising that men would rather play the more dominant doctor role rather than settle for a subordinate position in nursing. This explains why the gender discrepancy tilts to the other side of the spectrum for doctors, with only about 30% of physicians being female. Sadly, primitive peer pressure continues to discourage men away from the nursing profession, but it’s certainly not the only contributing factor.
3. Feminine Personality Traits
Not only do many men have no desire to enter the nursing field, but the pendulum also swings the other way as well – women seem to be more drawn to the profession. This is probably due to the fact that the act of nursing itself is naturally a feminine activity. Studies show that, on average, women are more compassionate and enjoy caring for others more than men. Thus, even as most of us have progressed past the gender-limited mindset of the 20th century, the internal wiring and desires of men haven’t changed much. When choosing which sector of the health industry to enter, it seems most men would still rather become a doctor, surgeon, or medical technician, simply because those roles are more suited to the analytical male mindset.
Overcoming the Social Stigma to Accommodate a Nursing Crisis
We’re in the middle of a global nursing shortage so severe it’s being called a crisis by many experts, so we really don’t have the room to let gender stereotypes stand in the way of filling the gap. Every year more men are entering the nursing profession, and we need the trend towards equality to continue if we’re going to maintain a satisfactory level of care at healthcare facilities around the world.