Career choice in nursing students: gendered constructs as psychological barriers

Authors


Orla Muldoon, School of Psychology, Queen's University Belfast, Belfast BT7 1NN, UK. E-mail: o.muldoon@qub.ac.uk

Abstract

Background.  Gendered views of nursing remain widespread. This study explores how such views may influence student nurses’ career aspirations.

Method.  A group of preregistration student nurses completed a questionnaire distributed early in their first year of study of a 3 year Higher Diploma in Nursing. Data were gathered on career aspirations and the perceived gendered nature of a number of career options. Gender role orientation and occupational and academic self-efficacy were also measured using the Bem Sex Role Inventory and an adaptation of the Betz and Hackett Self-Efficacy Scale.

Results.  The results document the relative popularity of each specialism within nursing and students’ perceptions of the gendered nature of each of the various nurse careers. Differences in these perceptions as related to gender and gender role identity are also outlined. Gender and gender role orientation were found to be predictive of sex-typed career aspirations only.

Conclusion.  The psychological barriers that exist for both men and women as they pursue careers in nursing need to be addressed if the current shortage of nursing personnel across the United Kingdom (UK) is to be solved.

Ancillary