Nursing has traditionally been seen as a profession that women enter, and this gender bias continues to affect people’s career choices. Today, the overwhelming majority of nurses are women, which has been the case since modern nursing began. In part, this is due to the kind of gender stereotypes that we see around us every day. In society, men are often seen as strong, assertive, and confident, which means they are more at home in leadership roles. On the other hand, women are considered nurturers, making them ideal for nursing roles. Although we know that women can be great leaders and men are excellent nurturers, these outdated perceptions often remain.
Famous nurses can be an inspiration to all.
Since the medical profession was in its infancy, the best-known nurses have been women. They have pioneered new caregiving styles, broken down barriers, and risked their lives to provide care. However, today their work can serve as an inspiration to anyone hoping to enter the profession. People such as Mary Seacole, Elizabeth Grace Neill, and, more recently, Amy O’Sullivan have greatly impacted the public’s perception of the work. If you are one of the many people who feel moved by the stories of famous nurses, you can browse through the courses at Baylor University to learn more about qualifying as a nurse. As the program is delivered online, it’s possible to structure your studies around your life.
How the profession has acted on gender bias
In 2021, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that 86.7% of nurses were women. That huge gender bias means a lot of work still needs to be done to attract more men into nursing. The solutions are not simple, and the medical establishment does not have a quick fix. Instead, change needs to happen gradually and involves altering the attitude of nurses and the public.
How nurse leaders have taken action
People in leadership roles have worked hard to combat discrimination and bias along gender lines in nursing. They use the managerial and interpersonal skills they’ve acquired over years of working in the profession. Primarily, leaders need to confront any bias they may have themselves. Much of this can be accomplished through reflective accounts of their working alongside male colleagues. Secondly, they have learned to consider whether they expect different behaviors from male and female staff. For example, are female colleagues considered better collaborators than their male counterparts, even if men are similarly skilled collaborators?
Educating healthcare workers
By taking an analytical approach, leaders increase their awareness of gender bias and can pass this knowledge on to their team. Nurses already know that some women prefer to be seen by a nurse who is also a woman, so it is easy for leaders to explain that the same is true for men. For some patients, a male nurse can offer the kind of comforting presence they need, enabling them to open up about their medical problems. By discussing these issues with their team, nurse leaders identify the bias problem for others and therefore help to eradicate it. Indeed, a 2019 study revealed that a diverse healthcare workforce could improve patient outcomes and boost staff performance.
Creating gender-inclusive public campaigns
For the public to understand the benefits of recruiting more male nurses, campaigns have been launched that reach even the youngest members of society. Educating the public through this work can help rebrand the profession as suitable for men and women. Also, university marketing campaigns can focus on the profession’s importance and take a gender-neutral approach to recruitment. During the pandemic, nurses were often asked about the challenges they faced. By discussing their role publicly, nurses provided insight into the complexities of modern healthcare, one that could attract men and women equally to this exhilarating profession.
Establishing nursing associations for men
Formed in 1971, the National Male Nurses Association works in almost every state to encourage men of all ages to consider nursing as a career. They also provide support to working nurses and promote professional development. The information campaigns they carry out across the country confirm that nursing is a good career choice for men. They also challenge the idea that nursing is solely a women’s role by promoting positive stories about male nurses. When male nurses join an organization like this, they can network with other professionals. This can help to open doors for male nurses, offering them new opportunities in areas of health that interest them but are traditionally dominated by women.
The adoption of positive recruitment campaigns
Recruitment is an issue for hospitals, clinics, and medical offices worldwide. There are many reasons for the current staff shortage, but one way to alleviate the problem is through recruitment campaigns. Hospitals that can show off a diverse range of staff, with men on hand to mentor other men, are more likely to appeal to recruits. This representation gives men someone to relate to and can help them face the stigma of gender bias. Increasingly, nursing recruiters have used strategies promoting nursing legitimacy while showcasing male role models.
Men can benefit the profession as a whole
We live through a time of severe nursing shortages, so now more than ever, it’s vital to stop gender bias from alienating men. Anyone who has worked as a nurse will know that men entering the field will find a great deal of personal fulfillment, but their presence also benefits the profession. They must ensure excellent patient care and bring more diversity to work. This imbalance can hopefully be resolved with the right public information campaigns, inclusive marketing, and exceptional nurse leadership.