Published Mar 1, 2014
I find that as a man in nursing, I encounter a lot of sexism from my female coworkers. When I am doing my shift in labor and delivery I'm always called out of my patient's room if one of the nurses wants help with lifting heavy patients or things and instead of helping me lift, they stand and watch as I do the lifting.
They make remarks about me being a "male nurse" which I find to be a sexist term. I don't call them female nurses.
The unit secretary also makes very sexually suggestive remarks to me constantly. I mean, if I said to her the things she says to me, I would be fired in a heartbeat.
I've tried to explain that some of their behavior and phrases are sexist and as such offensive, but my concerns are dismissed. The reason I was told is that, I am a man and men have been sexist against women for years. So I should be able to handle women being themselves.
Anyone else run into issues like this?
Sure, other nurses and sometimes patients will talk about "male nurses", but really, why do you even care? I'm trying to think how to say this tactfully.........but grow some thicker skin man! It's really not that big of a deal. Do your job, joke along with them, don't take it so seriously. Have fun with it. It is, in fact, a predominantly female field so it's just factual to acknowledge that, not prejudice. Men are different than women, as you may have noticed, and if you're more physically capable than some petite female nurse to lift something, then who cares if they ask you to do it? If anything, that's one asset you have over your coworkers in what can be a very competitive field at times.
Take some pride in being a male nurse. I don't even understand why you're bothered by this. Loosen up, when someone says something just joke back with them.
Esme12, ASN, BSN, RN
Sure, other nurses and sometimes patients will talk about "male nurses", but really, why do you even care? I'm trying to think how to say this tactfully.........but grow some thicker skin man! It's really not that big of a deal. Do your job, joke along with them, don't take it so seriously. Have fun with it. It is, in fact, a predominantly female field so it's just factual to acknowledge that, not prejudice. Men are different than women, as you may have noticed, and if you're more physically capable than some petite female nurse to life something, then who cares if they ask you to do it? Take some pride in being a male nurse. I don't even understand why you're bothered by this. Loosen up, when someone says something just joke back with them.
The suggestive remarks are inappropriate...but I openly admit that having the strength of a male is sometimes very helpful. I have no problem recognizing that I am a female and males are well...male.
Nalon1 RN/EMT-P, BSN, RN
Well, you are a male nurse. I refer to myself as a male nurse, does that make me sexist?
In general males are physically stronger, so nothing wrong with being asked to help. I tend to ask if they need help.
Now them standing by and not helping is wrong, nothing to do with being a male, just common courtesy. Same if they are calling you out a room where you are caring for a patient just to have you do stuff for them. Thats not sexism, that is them just being jerks.
Suggestive remarks are not appropriate no matter what, male to female or female to male. Just because "men have been sexist against women for years" is not justification. If you have asked them to stop, you need to go to HR and bring it to their attention if you want it to stop. Most places have ways to anonymously report this behavior (but is not as effective since they can't follow up.
Guttercat, ASN, RN
The unit secretary needs to stop that. Have you outright told her, "I don't like it?"
As a female nurse, I can tell you plenty of male nurses in my 20-some years have made entirely inappropriate remarks, but usually it's in the context of blowing off steam, and not a constant harassment. That doesn't bother me a bit.
If your unit secretary is incessant in her remarks, however, she needs to stop it. Tell her so. Likewise, if you are asked to come help move a patient and the other nurse just stands there, say something.
NurseGirl525, ASN, RN
Maybe they feel more comfortable because you are a guy to make suggestive remarks. I will say it is inappropriate but I always like being able to joke with guys because they are easier going about certain things than other women are. As for the lifting, get used to it. In my other jobs, I would always ask the guys to get the heavy things for me. We are built different. Men have more muscle mass than women. Just a fact of life. We deliver the babies and you get to lift for us. A little bit of a trade off. I like being able to joke and laugh with coworkers. But if you take issue with it, maybe you need another dept. or job.
cinlou, BSN, MSN, RN
I've been around a long time and am very happy to have the male nurse population growing. I get called out of rooms a lot by male nurses to do female caths, and pelvic exams, and for many years we did not have a male nurse to call on to help lift patients and we didn't have all the lift tools available to us either. That said, we are a team, and if I do a cath for a female patient they generally will do something for me. Some males are better than others at just doing the cath, I think if they present themselves professionally most patients will let them, just as male patients have let female nurses cath them for years, I just tell them to cover their eyes, they usually laugh and lighten up. If I ask for help it is for help not for them to do it for me, so I agree the person should not step back and watch you do it. Over the years we have had to become much more careful on what and how things are said, we don't eat over patients we have coded for the fifteenth time or smoke in the room, we have to be more culturally aware not just for our patients but for our peers. As a note, My Mother use to say she preferred male nurses because they were nicer than female nurse.
I was an LPN for 6 years and originally believed the female RN's looked down upon me for not being an RN. Things didn't change much after I became an RN.
I've dealt with the inappropriate comments in various ways over the years, much as described above: confrontation, joking, etc.
One thing that I do now is make comparative remarks to the Female Nurses'. For example, when the Female Nurses obsessively talk and go on and on and on about their Children, I get to talk about my vasectomy.
Oh, I realize I'm being passive-aggressive, but a lot of People respond well to insidious remarks. It's amazing how many facts about my vasectomy I can come up with to match their obsessive comments about their Children!
I've found that the consistent tit-for-tat approach works well with those who "just don't get it".
In extreme cases, I've found another approach is to objectively document situations and statements and give the documented facts to Administrative Officials. This tact has worked so well that I have documentation from an Administrative Official encouraging me to confront and/or report inappropriate behavior.
If a situation develops that is leaning toward being inappropriate, I will inform the Individual manifesting inappropriate behavior of the Administrative document. I've never had the inappropriate behavior escalate beyond that point!
Ruas61, BSN, RN
How does speaking about your vasectomy equate to speaking about children? That sounds inappropriate.
I don't think men being sexist to women for years justifies being sexist to men now. Men being the minority in the nursing field, can you now understand how some females feel about men being sexist towards them about almost everything else?
As for being called over to lift a patient, I have to agree with other people that you are stronger than most of the nurses. I don't think its right for them to stand and watch though... They did ask for HELP right?
I don't really see too much sexism, maybe I don't pay enough attention. I do understand about the lifting part though. Normally being the only male in my unit I get called and asked to help all day long. Which is fine, provided I'm helping... I'll lift 99% of the load happily. I just don't like being called to do other peoples work rather then helping them. We may be stronger as men but we still have the same job to do, which can be much more difficult if we are doing others work as well. Hell, I'll even be ok if they stand there and just move things out of the way but ive had female nurses call me for help moving a patient and then leave once they tell me where they want the patient moved to. That's a bit much.
I am thinking SEXISM. It is interesting to see that, when females are in the Majority-such as Nursing, they act the same way anyone does when they are the Majority. But history has made it very difficult for them to believe that. They have become very effective at getting everyone to believe that they are something other than humans that have a dark side like the rest of us. And none of the past historical treatments that they have received justifies that behavior when it is done themselves. I am very passionate about the situation, but no one wants to hear it. And I am not good at being hopeful when it requires me to deny the truth.
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