Well, i'm not going to give you 'hate', lol, but, i have a few thoughts which came to mind as i read your post.
Yes, yes, it's a well documented, undeniable fact that males ARE generally paid more. Glad for ya!! And you have done something right, that you got to be the boss for many years. Good on you.
and yes, there are those who feel physical labor IS what makes a job 'hard'. And no doubt, it does.
But, nursing is also a very physical job, probably even more so in the past, for the bulk of my career, before units were designed more efficiently and we usually logged 8 miles per shift of footsteps. (we checked, with those odometers)
and that was back before hoyers were more than one per hospital (for real, that's all a hosp had, we had to take turns all over) so much much lifting and pulling was done, many times every shift, and this was before body mechanics were as promoted as much as that topic is today.
I've worked ER or ICU much of my career,
and that ER unit was not usually as physically taxing as some units are, for several reasons,
there is usually less "pulling the patient up in his bed", which, when done bazillions of times per shift, takes a toll on a person's back, shoulders, wrists, etc. and there are usually more males around to assist in the heavy lifting when in the ER, too, and hoyers right there,
so your wife's summary
of how physically demanding ER nursing is,
Might not be applicable to all nurses
working in all various types of settings
on this thread.
What you might consider physically hard, as a male, (and i'm picturing you are probably a strong person, since you did physical labor) might be slightly different than what a smaller person might consider physically demanding or straining.
For many of us, turning a 400 lb patient who has diarrhea back and forth, frequently, to clean that person, over and over is physically demanding, and arguably, just as disgusting as as your description of cleaning ships.
I can't wait til you put on your first pair of TED hose onto a really large large person. Get back to me after you have. (kind of joke, most nurses will nod at that, it's hard!)
When i was young RN, being mentored by seasoned RNs, long ago, they ALL had bad backs, or had recovered from a back injury, it was part of the job. Guaranteed back then, and it is still a risk today. Many had multiple other injuries as well. Tons of boosting, turning, transferring, catching, lifting, twisting, scurrying nonstop is done by many nurses.
There are different kinds of " physically hard".
Many nurses have been physically assaulted at their jobs, from mildly to severely, and this is something unusual in most other professions. I've had a 6-4 250lb patient, (head injury) grab my neck and wrench my head to the side, and it was years and years til i was ever '100% right' again, but, luckily, i recovered. (no doctor appt, nothing, just walked it off, over time).
While we were transferring a 400lb one-legged patient from wheelchair to bed, her one good leg gave out, and my forearm, in her armpit ----took the bulk of her body weight all at once, and to this day, whenever i raise up my right arm, it goes numb. But, she did not fall.
I once sustained a very very scarey needle stick from an HIV patient, (didn't catch it, but, it felt like the beginning of a 'made for tv' movie for a while, til i was in the clear again.) made that neck injury seem like a piece of cake, really.
I could bore for a few more paragraphs on various injuries i've sustained, and for a few pages on injuries i've stood witness to, upon my fellow nurses. Tons of 'em.
Who knows, if we could hypothetically line up injured coworkers, in our two fields, who knows which of us would have the higher % of injured coworkers?
There are different kinds of "filthy".
I garden, and get covered in earth, and i work on cars,
yet, i don't feel nearly as 'filthy' as i do when i am vomited on, when someone throws their colostomy onto my hair, when i have some strangers blood on my skin, when some deathly ill person's green phlegm is on me, or when i get urinated on, long list of other ways to get filthy as a nurse.
There are different kinds of stress.
For some humans, moving heavy items repetitively might be the worst kind of stress, but, for some humans, knowing if you make even a slight error, you could orphan some child, is a type of stress, too. Having upset families scream at you, or even throw things around, is a stress, too. Having doctors scream you out, can be demeaning/stressful. Knowing you can't really control getting off work on time, and the impact that can have for parents, (or anyone) is a stress.
Sometimes, dealing with an unpredictable parade of humans all of whom are stressed out, can make cleaning ships seem appealing.
Only having time for lunch break once per week is stress, as is not being able to have even five minutes to get to the restroom, cuz you are that busy, is a stress. Being able to remember all 7 of things you need to do right now, is a stress, and it can stay that speed allll dayyyyy long. And at end of day, instead of being appreciated,
you might be scolded for not being done on time.
Having to stay abreast of an always changing body of knowledge, mental stress, emotional stress, all kinds of stressors.
some humans find intellectual demands just as draining or exhausting, as cleaning ships might be.
I do not mean to disrespect your work, at all, nope. I've done hard labor myself, it is hard. I'm just suggesting, that nursing can be hard in all types of different ways. And when drywallers are sometimes paid the same as nurses,
there might be something here to consider.
and re: the "handout" that Carla has paid into each and every paycheck she's ever made, that YOU would refuse if you were making $10 per hour,
If you are referring to the Carla described by the OP,
i am proud of Carla for doing whatever it took to ensure her 3 kids were not in dire poverty. There's not a lot i would not do for my kids, either, and if i had to swallow my pride, to ensure i could obtain the proper amounts of protein, to pay the heat bills, get them coats, etc, oh yeah, GULP, i'd find a way to swallow my pride. Yes, i would, i'd do it for my kids, indeed.
sometimes, it just best not to throw stones, til you have walked a mile as single mom raising 3 kids on minimum wage, paying childcare and everything else.. i'm just sayin.
EDIT----ps, the poverty stricken are sometimes disproportionately amongst the severely sick in the USA, so you might want to consider, trying to develop a more compassionate, less judgmental view for those that do take govt aide to feed their kids.(IF you harbor such a view, not sure) If you do go into nursing, you might be interacting with quite a few of them.