Societys Perception of Nurses
Society's perception of nurses is that of quiet, caring women. This perception alone is thought to keep men from wanting to become a nurse. For those who pursue a nursing career, ridicule, criticism and speculation must be endured for violating gender-based rules of society. One stigma is that male nurses are gay. This belief stems from the ideas about male masculinity. It suggests that only women are capable of nurturing and caring and that if a man has those same traits, there must be something wrong with him. Studies have shown that many male nurses are susceptible to this perception and often work to eliminate it by showing their wedding rings or mentioning their wives and children to colleagues and patients. An informal poll by a male nurse confirmed the belief around male nurses and homosexuality. " And most [men in the poll] assumed that all male nurses were gay,". It's interesting to note that in the very masculine world of the Army, approximately 25% to 30% of the nurses are male.
Nurses - Its a Women's World
While male nurses may be accused of being feminine they are still often asked to take care of masculine tasks. A male nurse provides a humorous look at his life as a nurse in "It's A Women's World." Besides being pinched by 90-year old ladies and the go-to guy when the toilet overflows, he reports "I'm the killer of all things icky and moving; bugs, spiders, drippy noses, and anything that is too gross for the female staff to deal with."
Educating Future Nurses
Even those charged with educating future nurses maintain the perception of nursing being a female profession.
- Textbooks have been slow to use pronouns other than "she"
- The pictures in literature fail to include pictures of male nurses
- Male nursing students report feeling "invisible" when the professor continuously address the class as "girls" or gives test questions that always refer to the nurse as "she"