The following is a quote from a paper written by Shawn Gardiner describing a scenario in which discrimination in nursing against men is wide spread, oppressive, and accepted. I agree with him completely with regard to the same. I am a male RN, a paralegal, and a biochemist.
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"I just did a paper for freshman english here at Syracuse University, and happened to find this forum while researching. This is my paper if you're interested ...
The Hyper-Visibility of the Male Nurse and the Invisibility of the Male Nurse’s Discrimination and Struggles
Nursing has been a profession throughout history. The first known record of nursing as a profession was in ancient Rome when groups of men organized to treat victims of the plague. The first American nurses were medics during the civil war; most of which were male. Women nurses, although the minority gained much recognition due to their involvement, and in 1901 the United States Nurse Corp was formed, a strictly female organization. Since then, the nursing profession has become primarily female dominated and therefore schools, organizations and workplaces all have turned towards female interests. In response to these actions and divisions, the nursing profession became stereotypically female in the mind of society, and the male nurse became invisible. The hyper-visibility of female nurses is very prevalent today, even as more male nurses join the nursing workforce. The new merge of males into the nursing profession is due to many different issues including higher pay, a greater demand for nurses, and an improvement in tolerance and understanding of diversity in society. Still, male nurses are stereotyped and face struggles in the classroom and in their profession. This is the result of decades of generalizing nurses as female, and in turn, male nurses face discrimination from educators, patients, and other nurses. Male nurses struggle with the stereotypes placed on them due to the dominance of women in the nursing practices. In this way, male nurses are not easily accepted by society, even with growing numbers in the field and people and groups pushing for equality for male nurses.
The Civil War began to shape nursing in America into its modern form. At that time males were the dominant gender in the field, because nursing was based around the military, and the military was primarily male. However, female nurses were most recognized for their nursing efforts in the war and still are today. A hyper-visibility of female nurses began due to the fact that women on the battlefield were a rarity. Women who undertook this job were the first to be a part of the on battle site military, and therefore were honored as daring and courageous, much more so than male military nurses. The, then, newfound popularity and familiarity of the female nurse drastically transformed the profession into being female dominated. In the late 1800’s the American Nurses Association (ANA) was formed, then under the name Nurses Associated Alumnae and was strictly female. This rule remained until 1930 when the organization began to accept men, but in a once all female organization, male membership was rare. The United States Nurse Corp formed as part of the military in 1901 was also strictly female. It wasn’t until the Korean War when men were finally allowed into this division. These two organizations dominated the two occupational fields in the United States, public and governmental. In this way these associations, not only affected, but guided the segregation in the field of nursing from their formation around the turn of the 19th century with decades of strict codes against male nurses.
Male nurses, today, account for about 5.7 percent of the Registered and Professional Nurses in America, the most popular types of nurses, and 5.4 percent of all nursing professions. In nursing schools, about 13% of students are male. This shows a strong rise in the male interest in the field of nursing. Increased male interest in the field of nursing can be tied to several issues. First, nursing school enrollment is down, and there is now a shortage of nurses in many areas throughout the United States. This has provoked interest in males because nursing is now a field with many job and advancement opportunities that other professions can no longer offer. Also, due to the increased need and also increased specialization of nurses, the wage of nurses is rising at a higher rate than many other professions. A job as a nurse can be a very efficient job for a male in a household with both working parents. In addition, with the growing acceptance and tolerance of breaking gender barriers in society today, males are more willing, and less embarrassed, to enter a female dominated field.
In addition to the increased advantages of males entering nursing, schools and job providers are also taking new steps to promote males into the nursing profession. A new slogan “Are you man enough to wear white” is part of a campaign by medical educators. This statement is specifically designed to break the feminine stereotype of nurses and, in contrast, promote a masculine attitude about the profession. This type of campaign has been successful because the rate of males to females entering nursing school has risen greatly. Sadly however, dropout rates in nursing schools for male nurses are higher than those for male nurses. After completion of college or nursing school, male nurses continue to struggle. Male nurses have a significantly lower job satisfaction and leave the profession at twice the rate of female nurses. This is most likely due to many factors that have risen due to the female dominance of the occupation.
Gender discrimination for nurses begins in the classroom where classes are focused primarily towards the female student. Books and other materials, especially older references can refer to nurses as “she”, indicating all nurses are female, and mention males only as patients or doctors, never nurses. In this way, males have been placed in a learning environment with a sharp female bias. In the workplace, male nurses often stand out against the female nurses and are often treated differently by their supervisors, co-workers, and patients. In this way, male nurses feel and often are forced to perform at at a higher standard due to their hyper-visibility. Patients often resent or even reject male nurses, because they are uncomfortable, probably due to stereotypes and mental preconceptions. This is especially evident in labor and delivery departments of hospitals where male nurses may not be permitted either by their job description or patient request.
The nursing occupation is generally stereotyped as feminine, because of the job history and also qualities of a typical nurse. Nurses are expected to be caring, gentle, and compassionate, qualities stereotyped as female and rejected by males. In this way, male nurses have to break this barrier and in doing so are often generalized as feminine. This can lead to accusations of homosexuality or weakness, both strong and damaging classifications to males in modern society. These stereotypes are often very hard to deal with, and take strong self-confidence to get over. In addition, male nurses can be seen as unmotivated and under-achievers, as compared to other medical professionals, primarily doctors. These stereotypes can cause embarrassment and stress among male nurses in the workplace, and in public, which most likely leads to the high quitting rate.
Media has a large role in the portrayal of male nurses to the public. Movies and TV shows reflect life situations in a surreal manner, often times using stereotypes for character development and humor. One such from of media is “Meet the Parents” in which the character Gaylord (Greg) Focker, played by Ben Stiller, is a male nurse. The name “Gaylord Focker” is an obvious stereotypical characterization, which immediately implies homosexuality. His personality is depicted as flamboyant and his speech flippant. Engaged to his fiancée, Pam, Greg is criticized and made fun of by Pam’s parents, specifically her father, for his homosexual-like flamboyancy, tall tales, and most importantly his occupation as a nurse. In a dialogue from the movie, Greg’s occupation is clearly diminished by the characters of Jack Byrnes and Bob Banks.
Jack: Greg’s in medicine too.
Bob: What field?
Bob: Ha ha ha ha. No really, what field are you in?
In this conversation, nursing as a male profession is clearly rejected, by the character of Bob, as a means for satirical humor. The laughing and requisitioning implies a denial of the possibility of a male nurse and is direct and demeaning. Through these types of media portrayal of male nurses, society is not only given the idea that males do not belong in the nursing profession but also that using male nurse stereotypes is acceptable for humor.
Humor, derived from males in the nursing profession, can come from sources outside of the media. T-shirts sold online at AllHeart.com can be found with the saying “Be nice to me/ when you’re in the hospital/ Your butt is in My hands!” The T-shirt, entitled “Be Nice to Male Nurses Medical Humor T-Shirt” can be bought for $14.98 plus shipping and handling. This commercial example of humor expands the exploitation of male nurses, by almost literally selling the stereotypes. This T-shirt directly attacks and generalizes male nurses as aggressive and dangerous. The “Be nice to me…” statement, demonstrates a demand for power, which can lead the fear and suspicion of male nurses, both by patients and co-workers. In the utmost irony, the T-shirt is directly targeted for sale to male nurses, which are the people it is segregating against. A male in the nursing profession, who wears the shirt, would in fact be generalizing himself, and therefore only adding to the stereotypes that lead to the suspicion and fear as well as the other negative mentalities associated with male nurses.
Males in nursing have strong opinions toward the stereotypes and generalizations as well as the discrimination that these mindsets create. A poll by Male Nurse Magazine posed the question, “Do you feel that males are represented fairly within nursing?” In response almost two-thirds, over 65%, chose the response, “No, I feel we are overlooked at this time”. According Male Nurse Magazine an increase in the choice of the “No …” response has risen in rate, from previous surveys that posted the same question and choices. A clear majority of male nurses do feel that inequalities occur for them either in or outside of the workplace. This majority is growing, and therefore the broadness and importance of the unfairness is also increasing.
Males in the nursing profession are both invisible and hyper-visible in the scope of society. Visually in the work place they are hyper-visible because they stand out in a strongly female dominated profession. To patients and coworkers a nurse that has a title beginning with Mr. is unusual and therefore treated in a different manner. Patients and staff often deal with, and have different standards, for male nurses. This only adds to the hyper-visibility of the male nurse. Males in nursing are invisible in that their struggles and efforts to revise bias in nursing often times are under appreciated or unnoticed. Society and the media are not as interested in male nurses breaking gender barriers as women in male profession. Also, Women are usually given more respect and credibility for their efforts in breaking their barriers. In this way, male nurse occupational gender barrier movements are hyper-visible, especially compared to the women’s movements.
Male nurses face the same type of struggles, and often at a higher level, than females breaking gender barriers in other professions. The typically suppressed female worker along with other groups are using several types of discrimination to hold back males in the field of nursing. This reveals a reverse segregation for male nurses which is gaining throughout society. Whereas stereotypes of certain groups are highly discouraged and penalized in today’s society, jokes and generalizations of male nurses are often accepted in both society and the media. This greatly hampers the male nursing movements, and greatly affects male nurses in their confidence and mentality. This can lead to poorer job performance and poorer job satisfaction. Many male nurses are pushed to the point of leaving their job. The discrimination that male nurses face in America today needs to be recognized by society so that acceptance and respect can be given to both male and female nurses equally. If not, the previous stereotypes will remain, and male nurses will continue to be held down, unable to ever experience gender equality in nursing."
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