Sexism in Nursing (a male point of view)

  1. As a male in nursing, I feel that I am sometimes treated differently because of my gender. I believe that I am expected to carry a heavier patient load with less assistance from my female coworkers. I also believe that men are more often assigned to care for obese patients; I am also sometimes pulled to the other end of the unit to assist in moving heavy patients because I am stronger.

    For instance, I work in an ICU and our nurse to patient ratio is either 1:1 or 1:2; the other day 4 out of the 5 doubles (1:2) were assigned to men. On the same day, a female nurse said "We can get so and so to help, he's a big strong guy." I responded that I felt that was sexism and the nurse said "Are you saying that men aren't physically stronger than women." I replied that I agreed that, in general, men are stronger than women; however, they are not immune to back injuries or repeatative stress injuries. We are friends and this was a friendly and playful discussion.

    I think part of what motivated me to post this topic is the Oregon poster to recruit men into nursing because more men in nursing would change the current culture. Nursing is female dominated; therfore, so is the culture. Most men (especially the real men to whom this poster is directed) are not used to being the "underdog" or to working in an environment where their way of dealing with stress may be viewed as inappropriate. The adjustment can be difficult. I have talked to other men I work with and most have agreed (quietly), but it isn't something that is talked about. I thought that this would be a great forum in which to discuss this topic.

    My aim is not to attack female nurses or to be confrontational, it is to discuss this topic openly as I feel it to be important.
    Last edit by ANnot4me on Nov 17, '02
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    About ANnot4me, BSN

    Joined: Oct '00; Posts: 452; Likes: 628


  3. by   Dplear
    Thats why it is called teamwork......I am often called on to help with pt's that aren't mine when I worked ICU. I also got heavier loads but you know what....who cares? If I have more pt's than what I still have had jobs where I worked hardwer for a hell of a lot less money, if I have to help you move an obese pt, I don't care. I have had jobs where I have had to do heavy lifting all day. At least i am in air conditioned or heated enviroments rather than working out under the sky. I have had those type jobs. I worked as a pipe-fitter in college during the summers. So if as males we have to work harder or do more lifting so be it.

  4. by   baseline
    Hmmm...I see where you are coming from...but I haven't seen heavier assignments given based on gender......usually based on competency..or just bad luck in the draw....As far as lifting....I have seen the stronger versions get asked more frequently...male and female....lots of weight lifters and strong backs in both genders where I work!
  5. by   mario_ragucci
    Logic: Since AMericans are increasingly obese, and since men have more muscle mass, more male nurses are needed. Lol.

    When I washed dishes for a major airline, I always got placed on the harder jobs. As long as respect is a two way street. I am a man, would open the door for you and would bend for you if you need, but in exchange i want you to talk to me respectfully as I talk to you...always.

    If positive communication breaks at work, and I am the only guy, getting the physically harder assignments, AND I get no respect, now that would be tough. if the people at work respect each other, then its a team thing and we smile and we try and we are incredible.

    The male-female thing is real, and I am scared to talk about it usually in real life because sometimes disrespect is caused, followed by break in communication and snubs. It's not worth getting snubed to me.
  6. by   baseline
    Wow...I must work in a fantasy land......I travel all over my hospital and what I see are nurses.....working...hard....together. Male and female. Good nurses...average nurses...dweebs and leaders.......just nurses...who are human beings...being human. Some days are better than others........
  7. by   plumrn
    The men get called more frequently w/heavy pts.
    The hispanic nurses get called on to interpret.
    The female nurses get called on to bathe,potty, etc., the little old
    ladies who just will not allow a man to do these things for them.
    And the female nurses, occasionally, are overlooked by male Docs
    to speak to the male nurses.
    I know what you are saying, and I have noticed it is done without second thought, sometimes.
    Hopefully, it all evens out in the end. Do you think it does?
  8. by   Gardengal
    I agree that the male nurses are frequently called upon to help pull patients up or move them, but I also see the stronger female nurses well as a few more of the weaker ones.
    I also have seen males ask females to do things for some of their patients.
    I do not believe that our assignments are made based on male female more on skills and strength-with the exception of the combative patient. I agree that the stronger nurses are more frequently utilized there. Since 2 of the male nurses in my area have had back problems though, that's not necessarily a man.
  9. by   donmurray
    Doorman/Security, Handyman, Porter, Weightlifter, some of the roles most often expected of nurses who are male. The roles are not important, it is the expectation/assumption that because of one's gender a particular task is "naturally" yours.
  10. by   baseline
    Until the human race becomes devoid of pre-determined ideas and predjudices...of ALL kinds....I prefer to think of nurses ( ALL nurses...race, gender, religious belief....) as members of the team.
  11. by   tattooednursie
    I feel that women and men ARE very equal in nursing, but somethimes its not TREATED that way. Like if a woman see a male nurse sometimes they think, "cool, but he's probably not as compasionate as a woman" But ya know what . . . all the male nurses that I have worked with can be great nurses! some of the woman lack in compassion, seriously. and occasionally I'm sure a man thinks "cool, but she's either *****y or can lift as well as me" I think the best thing to do is get to know the strengtsh and weaknesses of your co-workers. and show them how to improve in any way they can. In being a CNA, I have had other CNA's teach me the tricks of the trade of lifting, and some nurses gave me an attitude adjustment abot my occasional bad attitude. I went from Whiney ***** who could not lift anyone without help, to whiney ***** who could lift almost anyone . . . Yeah, i still need to work on the attitude. And I'm sure men have the same problems too.

    I don't think it is right that they are telling you to help with all of the lifting, but maybe deep down it is a compliment from them.
  12. by   mario_ragucci
    "R E S P E C T , find out what it means to me, sock it to me, sock it to me" (A. Franklin)
  13. by   ERN
    Hi Everyone,
    I am new to posting in nursing forums and wish to say "Thank You" to all because of the great discussion and comradery i've generally seen here. I have learned alot from all of you. This topic caught my eye. I am an ER RN with 16 yrs in ER's and have managed a very busy ED for some time now. I am also male. A friend of mine ( male RN ) deals with the question of his being a male RN by telling folks that, "He was born a nurse and had to take special classes to become a male". Occasionally he would elicit a laugh. The point is that we are all nurses and our lack of respect and professional behavior towards one another has helped to make Nursing less attractive not only to potential nurses, but also acts as a deterent for good nurses to stay in the profession. I believe Ben Franklin said, " If we don't hang together, we will surely hang separately".
  14. by   ERN
    A third cent to go with the other two......

    I have actively discouraged any nurse being treated inappropriately. That includes male RN's "called" to control violent pts within the hosp, "gathering" all the M RN's to lift, position, transport obese pts, restrict OB-GYN procedures to female RN"s only, Doc's that treat RN's differently based on sex really piss me off. Thanks again, as I read more of the insightful words on this site, hopefully it will help me be a better, more professional RN.