Men in nursing: issues of gender segregation and hidden advantage

Authors


Joan Evans, Department of Nursing, St Francis Xavier University, PO Box5000, Antigonish, Nova Scotia, Canada B2G 2WS.

Abstract

The small but growing number of men in the nursing profession does not herald a progressive integration of masculine and feminine sex roles. The evidence presented in this paper suggests that even in female-dominated occupations such as nursing, patriarchal gender relations which reflect a high valuation of all that is male and masculine, play a significant role in situating a disproportionate number of men in administrative and elite specialty positions. At the heart of this gender dynamic is the need to separate the masculine from the lesser valued feminine. Male nurses do this by employing strategies that allow them to distance themselves from female colleagues and the quintessential feminine image of nursing itself, as a prerequisite to elevating their own prestige and power. They are aided in this task by patriarchal cultural institutions that create and perpetuate male advantage, as well as by women nurses themselves who, consciously or unconsciously, nurture the careers of men colleagues.

Ancillary