Why don’t more men apply to study nursing?

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University of Plymouth Guest Lecturer
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If someone asks you to picture a doctor, it’s likely you’ll picture a man. If someone asks you to picture a nurse, it’s more likely you’ll picture a woman.

This unconscious bias is on the way to being addressed on the medical front as female medical student numbers have escalated in recent years – with women now accounting for over half of medical professionals at a training grade. Yet the amount of men training to become nurses has plateaued for decades at between 8-11 per cent.

Why is this?



I'm Dr Kevin Hambridge, Lecturer in Adult Nursing and Associate Head of School (Marketing). I completed my nurse training between 1986-1989 and then worked as a staff nurse on a general surgical ward in Derriford Hospital for 6 years. In 1995 I worked for 18months on an arterial surgical ward and completed my Diploma in Nursing & BSc in Health Studies (2:1) before moving to a local private hospital in the capacity of Practice Develpoment Charge Nurse. There I completed my MSc in Nursing and my Post Graduate Certificate in Education and worked part-time in a local college lecturing on various health issues. In September 2004 I commenced my post with the University of Plymouth and have recently completed a PhD.
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Reality Check
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(Original post by University of Plymouth Guest Lecturer)
If someone asks you to picture a doctor, it’s likely you’ll picture a man. If someone asks you to picture a nurse, it’s more likely you’ll picture a woman.

This unconscious bias is on the way to being addressed on the medical front as female medical student numbers have escalated in recent years – with women now accounting for over half of medical professionals at a training grade. Yet the amount of men training to become nurses has plateaued for decades at between 8-11 per cent.

Why is this?
I love people who use a horizontal rule

Usual things for me: (relatively) low pay and definitely low status. Plus it's the 'caring' role: men generally speaking aren't attracted to caring professions, in the same way as the vast majority of men don't want to be nursery nurses, care sector workers or primary school teachers. I think it's easy to see why men are going to be far more likely to become doctors or surgeons than nurses of HCAs, and I don't think it's just a societal thing. Unfashionable as it is, there is a difference between the sexes in lots of things and, for me, this is one of them.
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producktive
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My best guess, since I don't know those males who have an interest in nursing, would be that they're carrying a subconscious self-fulfilling stereotype of exactly what you said - there's more women in nursing so therefore men may feel as if they don't belong there and have other expectations of themselves. If that is the case, it's pretty sad, I mean it's 2020, SCREW GENDER ROLES :')
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vicvic38
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(Original post by Reality Check)
I love people who use a horizontal rule

Usual things for me: (relatively) low pay and definitely low status. Plus it's the 'caring' role: men generally speaking aren't attracted to caring professions, in the same way as the vast majority of men don't want to be nursery nurses, care sector workers or primary school teachers. I think it's easy to see why men are going to be far more likely to become doctors or surgeons than nurses of HCAs, and I don't think it's just a societal thing. Unfashionable as it is, there is a difference between the sexes in lots of things and, for me, this is one of them.
Is it not possible that there is a societal reason men don't want to go into these fields, besides just "biology"?

Primary School teachers, for instance. Men who train to be primary school teachers find themselves far and away the disciplinarians of the schools they are in (probably because boys tend to be in trouble more (which can either be argued to be innate biological difference or from the early socialisation of girls being more attuned to classroom environments) and these boys will better connect with men.) This then tends to lead them into more administrative roles a lot quicker, taking them back out of the classrooms. There is also, still, a social stigma attached to men who are seen with young children. Having men in primary school classrooms is unequivocally a good thing for the development of boys (and girls), so even if this is a biological issue, it would still be worth it to incentivise men to join this profession.

I believe you take somewhat for granted that every choice we make is solely our own and not influenced by society. Is it not just as likely that the society we live in tells men that they are not allowed to care and that hanging around children makes them nefarious as it is that it is just a "difference between the sexes"? The fact that more and more men are taking on further childcare responsibilities in their own homes should be evidence to the fact that this is probably not totally explained by gender differences.

Nursing is a much maligned profession, and I don't think people really understand the role a nurse plays in a hospital. I reckon many men would find it a rich and rewarding profession.
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Reality Check
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(Original post by vicvic38)
Is it not possible that there is a societal reason men don't want to go into these fields, besides just "biology"?

Primary School teachers, for instance. Men who train to be primary school teachers find themselves far and away the disciplinarians of the schools they are in (probably because boys tend to be in trouble more (which can either be argued to be innate biological difference or from the early socialisation of girls being more attuned to classroom environments) and these boys will better connect with men.) This then tends to lead them into more administrative roles a lot quicker, taking them back out of the classrooms. There is also, still, a social stigma attached to men who are seen with young children. Having men in primary school classrooms is unequivocally a good thing for the development of boys (and girls), so even if this is a biological issue, it would still be worth it to incentivise men to join this profession.

I believe you take somewhat for granted that every choice we make is solely our own and not influenced by society. Is it not just as likely that the society we live in tells men that they are not allowed to care and that hanging around children makes them nefarious as it is that it is just a "difference between the sexes"? The fact that more and more men are taking on further childcare responsibilities in their own homes should be evidence to the fact that this is probably not totally explained by gender differences.

Nursing is a much maligned profession, and I don't think people really understand the role a nurse plays in a hospital. I reckon many men would find it a rich and rewarding profession.
I think you make good points, and I don't disagree with them. I'm obviously not arguing that society has no role to play in these matters: of course it does. But are there other societies and countries which have even an even number of male nurses, nursery nurses, HCAs and the like? I don't know the answer to this, but I'm speculating the answer is 'no'. And, if this is the case, then surely we have to discount the 'society' aspect a bit and look at other reasons (unless of course you think that all societies are fundamentally the same).

here is also, still, a social stigma attached to men who are seen with young children.

I would say this is quite a British thing. In countries like Italy, a picture of a man surrounded by smiling kids makes people think 'what a family guy that man is'. You show the same photo to a British person and they're more likely to say 'paedo'. A damming indictment.
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squeakysquirrel
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(Original post by University of Plymouth Guest Lecturer)
If someone asks you to picture a doctor, it’s likely you’ll picture a man. If someone asks you to picture a nurse, it’s more likely you’ll picture a woman.

This unconscious bias is on the way to being addressed on the medical front as female medical student numbers have escalated in recent years – with women now accounting for over half of medical professionals at a training grade. Yet the amount of men training to become nurses has plateaued for decades at between 8-11 per cent.

Why is this?



I am a Lecturer in Adult Nursing and Associate Head of School (Marketing). I completed my nurse training between 1986-1989 and then worked as a staff nurse on a general surgical ward in Derriford Hospital for 6 years. In 1995 I worked for 18months on an arterial surgical ward and completed my Diploma in Nursing & BSc in Health Studies (2:1) before moving to a local private hospital in the capacity of Practice Develpoment Charge Nurse. There I completed my MSc in Nursing and my Post Graduate Certificate in Education and worked part-time in a local college lecturing on various health issues. In September 2004 I commenced my post with the University of Plymouth and have recently completed a PhD.
Jesus - find myself agreeing with Reality Check for second time today!

Low pay, antisocial hours, perception of it being a bit "gay" for a man to be a nurse. Once you are qualified it is easier for a woman - who will be the main carer for children - to do part time work. Man has to be breadwinner... blah blah blah.

The majority of the male nurses I work with are wonderful people - caring, gregarious and thorough and it is a nice counterbalance to have them in the department.
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Reality Check
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(Original post by squeakysquirrel)
Jesus - find myself agreeing with Reality Check for second time today!

Low pay, antisocial hours, perception of it being a bit "gay" for a man to be a nurse. Once you are qualified it is easier for a woman - who will be the main carer for children - to do part time work. Man has to be breadwinner... blah blah blah.

The majority of the male nurses I work with are wonderful people - caring, gregarious and thorough and it is a nice counterbalance to have them in the department.
Bloody hell - we only need one more and we've got the set!
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Mustafa0605
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It’s a low pay low status job. In the point of view of men (who don’t have strong grades), it’s better to get into an apprenticeship than spend years at Univeristy to end up on the minimum wage.
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chazwomaq
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(Original post by University of Plymouth Guest Lecturer)
This unconscious bias...
AKA "accuracy".
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squeakysquirrel
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(Original post by Mustafa0605)
It’s a low pay low status job. In the point of view of men (who don’t have strong grades), it’s better to get into an apprenticeship than spend years at Univeristy to end up on the minimum wage.
Er ... not minimum wage at all. A newly qualified band 5 earns £24214 pa. Minimum wage equivalent £15015 - bit of a difference
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vicvic38
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(Original post by Reality Check)
I think you make good points, and I don't disagree with them. I'm obviously not arguing that society has no role to play in these matters: of course it does. But are there other societies and countries which have even an even number of male nurses, nursery nurses, HCAs and the like? I don't know the answer to this, but I'm speculating the answer is 'no'. And, if this is the case, then surely we have to discount the 'society' aspect a bit and look at other reasons (unless of course you think that all societies are fundamentally the same).
It's a fair point. I don't want you to switch off of what I'm about to say, but I do think that the majority of modern society is fundamentally similar because they are all fundamentally patriarchies. This does not mean that there is a secret underground society of men who are conspiring to oppress the wamens (although the free masons exist so I dunno :rofl:.) What I mean is that developed society holds a specific sort of masculinity as the ideal, which is as harmful to men as it is to women. This dissuades men from professions such as the ones you mention because this view of masculinity precludes this sort of caring as feminine, and child-rearing as a fundamentally female job and so is unworthy for men. This is why there has been comparatively little issue getting women into "masculine" workplaces, whereas getting men into lower paid, less well regarded "feminine" workplaces is not happening. Part of this problem is that these workplaces are less well paid, partially because they are seem as feminine, and so less important than masculine jobs. Men are still expected to make good money (women don't like to pair up with men who are less well off than themselves, another patriarchal expectation) and so these professions force men away more.

It's tempting to feel that we are gaining equality because women are coming "through the glass ceiling" however at the moment that is a semi-permeable barrier, allowing women up, but men can't come down.
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chazwomaq
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(Original post by vicvic38)
It's a fair point...allowing women up, but men can't come down.
This argument is probably not true, because of the gender equality paradox. You may feel that all cultures are patriarchal, but some are clearly more unequal than others. You would expect that those that are most gender unequal would have bigger differences between what subjects men and women study, what jobs they do and what interests they have.

You actually find the opposite. In the most gender equal countries like the nordic countries, you find the biggest different between academic and vocational interests, compared with gender unequal countries in places like Asia or Africa.
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vicvic38
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(Original post by chazwomaq)
This argument is probably not true, because of the gender equality paradox. You may feel that all cultures are patriarchal, but some are clearly more unequal than others. You would expect that those that are most gender unequal would have bigger differences between what subjects men and women study, what jobs they do and what interests they have.

You actually find the opposite. In the most gender equal countries like the nordic countries, you find the biggest different between academic and vocational interests, compared with gender unequal countries in places like Asia or Africa.
This doesn't quite explain away what I'm trying to say.

I'm not arguing over why women aren't going into STEM, that's a rather unrelated question here. I'm arguing as to why men aren't going into caring professions. I doubt you'd look at most unequal countries and see an overabundance of men in nursing, except where inequality is such that women are not able to get into/stay in the profession. The gender equality paradox shows how women are shunning STEM careers but not how men are shunning "caring" careers.

It is not an argument that extends in that fashion.
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chazwomaq
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(Original post by vicvic38)
I'm not arguing over why women aren't going into STEM, that's a rather unrelated question here.
I think it's a very related question. The gender equality paradox suggests that people are not choosing careers because gender expectations are pushing them here and there. Rather, it suggests that as opportunities become better, people are freer to follow their natural preferences. And there are sex differences in natural preferences, plausibly inherited via evolution.
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RareNebulas
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(Original post by University of Plymouth Guest Lecturer)
If someone asks you to picture a doctor, it’s likely you’ll picture a man. If someone asks you to picture a nurse, it’s more likely you’ll picture a woman.

This unconscious bias is on the way to being addressed on the medical front as female medical student numbers have escalated in recent years – with women now accounting for over half of medical professionals at a training grade. Yet the amount of men training to become nurses has plateaued for decades at between 8-11 per cent.

Why is this?



I am a Lecturer in Adult Nursing and Associate Head of School (Marketing). I completed my nurse training between 1986-1989 and then worked as a staff nurse on a general surgical ward in Derriford Hospital for 6 years. In 1995 I worked for 18months on an arterial surgical ward and completed my Diploma in Nursing & BSc in Health Studies (2:1) before moving to a local private hospital in the capacity of Practice Develpoment Charge Nurse. There I completed my MSc in Nursing and my Post Graduate Certificate in Education and worked part-time in a local college lecturing on various health issues. In September 2004 I commenced my post with the University of Plymouth and have recently completed a PhD.
because men value salary far more in making their career choice than women do. Doctors are far higher paid hence more men interested in medicine go for that career instead of nursing
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vicvic38
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(Original post by chazwomaq)
I think it's a very related question. The gender equality paradox suggests that people are not choosing careers because gender expectations are pushing them here and there. Rather, it suggests that as opportunities become better, people are freer to follow their natural preferences. And there are sex differences in natural preferences, plausibly inherited via evolution.
But the data that supports that hypothesis is only related to women, and it is only related to STEM.

Even if we do presume that women biologically are predisposed to non-STEM fields, that doesn't mean that men are predisposed to STEM. It's not a necessary opposite. We're also not interested in whether men are choosing STEM degrees, we want to know why men are not choosing caring professions. One set is not the compliment of the other.

The only thing your data shows is that STEM programs in less equal countries have a higher proportion of women on them than those in more equal countries. There's also issues in the data insofar as it doesn't look at what proportion of female graduates are STEM, just what proportion of STEM graduates are female. If you really wanted to draw any conclusions from the data, you'd need to look at what proportion of graduates are STEM graduates, what proportion of graduates are female, and what proportion of those graduates do STEM.
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(Original post by University of Plymouth Guest Lecturer)
If someone asks you to picture a doctor, it’s likely you’ll picture a man. If someone asks you to picture a nurse, it’s more likely you’ll picture a woman.

This unconscious bias is on the way to being addressed on the medical front as female medical student numbers have escalated in recent years – with women now accounting for over half of medical professionals at a training grade. Yet the amount of men training to become nurses has plateaued for decades at between 8-11 per cent.

Why is this?



I am a Lecturer in Adult Nursing and Associate Head of School (Marketing). I completed my nurse training between 1986-1989 and then worked as a staff nurse on a general surgical ward in Derriford Hospital for 6 years. In 1995 I worked for 18months on an arterial surgical ward and completed my Diploma in Nursing & BSc in Health Studies (2:1) before moving to a local private hospital in the capacity of Practice Develpoment Charge Nurse. There I completed my MSc in Nursing and my Post Graduate Certificate in Education and worked part-time in a local college lecturing on various health issues. In September 2004 I commenced my post with the University of Plymouth and have recently completed a PhD.
I'm actually more concerned about why you care? Bit of a mean way of phrasing it but I couldn't think of any other.

Ultimately, this is a non-issue, but if you wish to know why people think "man" when they hear the word "doctor" and "woman" when they hear the word "nurse", its because people have more first or second-hand experience with doctors who are "male" and nurses who are "female". This leads to them associating the words with the genders. Case in point, I have never had a female doctor, but I have had both male nurses and female nurses. I have mainly had female nurses throughout my life, and as such, when I think of the word, I think of a female.

That isn't bias, but gender stereotypes reinforced by media might also have something to do with it, but even then, these aren't exactly harmful stereotypes.
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Amelia_2468
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(Original post by University of Plymouth Guest Lecturer)
If someone asks you to picture a doctor, it’s likely you’ll picture a man. If someone asks you to picture a nurse, it’s more likely you’ll picture a woman.

This unconscious bias is on the way to being addressed on the medical front as female medical student numbers have escalated in recent years – with women now accounting for over half of medical professionals at a training grade. Yet the amount of men training to become nurses has plateaued for decades at between 8-11 per cent.

Why is this?



I am a Lecturer in Adult Nursing and Associate Head of School (Marketing). I completed my nurse training between 1986-1989 and then worked as a staff nurse on a general surgical ward in Derriford Hospital for 6 years. In 1995 I worked for 18months on an arterial surgical ward and completed my Diploma in Nursing & BSc in Health Studies (2:1) before moving to a local private hospital in the capacity of Practice Develpoment Charge Nurse. There I completed my MSc in Nursing and my Post Graduate Certificate in Education and worked part-time in a local college lecturing on various health issues. In September 2004 I commenced my post with the University of Plymouth and have recently completed a PhD.
I think it is because some men, don't think it is a stereotypical man role. Despite, the fact that there gender associated with being a nurse, i.e. women can be doctors and men can be nurses.

This view is also seen in discussions of body image. Whereby, male discussions of body image is seen taboo.
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lionheart27
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1. Why would you not work hard to dominate the profession you choose, rather than settle for just enough? A career as a doctor brings more status, wealth and a shiny "Dr" title.

2. A career as a nurse in comparison is simple, which is why men don't bother with it. What man wants to take orders from another man, when he can endeavour to be the one who gives them?

I think ambition is the greatest variable in this regard - next to comfort. It's obvious that women can manage the intellectual neccessities, but the question is whether they want no social-life, constant hours, a family... etc. Nursing is a little more flexible, more achievable and less socially damning than being a doctor.
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Reality Check
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(Original post by Amelia_2468)
I think it is because some men, don't think it is a stereotypical man role. Despite, the fact that there gender associated with being a nurse, i.e. women can be doctors and men can be nurses.

This view is also seen in discussions of body image. Whereby, male discussions of body image is seen taboo. I'm finding this trend in my research whereby the majority of my participants are female, and I am struggling to find males who are open to talking about body image. If you are male and are open to talking about body image, please could you complete my online questionnaire (for my final year dissertation), also could you pass the link to anyone you know who is male, 18 + and is open to discussions of body image, I will really appreciate it, thank you. If you have any questions please do message me:

The link to online questioonaire:



https://stmarys.onlinesurveys.ac.uk/...-usage-socia-7
Please stop injecting this request for research participants into every thread. This is off-topic and has but a passing reference to the question the OP asked. It's also highly disrespectful to OPs to hijack threads. There is a dedicated area for student surveys and polls at student surveys and research.

Thank you.
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