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Conforming to and Resisting Dominant Gender Norms: How Male and Female Nursing Students Do and Undo Gender


Department of Communication, University of Colorado, Boulder, 270 UCB, Hellems 96, Boulder, CO, USA 80309; e-mail:


Much existing research has shown that men are able to construct and enact masculine identities in female-dominated occupational contexts. However, few studies have examined the experiences of both men and women in these occupations. Furthermore, few studies attend to how men and women in these occupations both conform to and resist gender norms. In this study, I draw on the undoing gender frameworks developed by Deutsch and Butler to address the limitations mentioned above. Most notably, this study attends to the ways in which male and female nursing students do gender by conforming to dominant gender norms, as well as undo gender by resisting these norms. The main contribution of this study is thus to show the multiple ways through which gender can be done and undone in the professional training of both male and female nurses. The results of this study demonstrate the importance of attending to both women and men in research on female-dominated occupations and of examining both similarities and differences in the gender performances of men and women.