Mikey questions whether nursing is still lagging behind in the race towards gender equality
Being a student nurse is an important part of my identity.
It’s who I am and the morals I stand for are all part of the nursing role; compassion, empathy, amicability and kindness, to name a few.
However, as a male student, I find I am often referred to as the “male nurse” as if this is my defining trait.
I have a compassionate work ethic towards my patients. I feel I am a hard-working and compassionate student and I am gifted with the ability to make children laugh at difficult times. So why is the fact that I’m male my defining feature?
“Does the gender of a nurse make any difference to how they perform professionally?”
I’m not the only one. Male students often find themselves being referred to by their gender, ie “the male nurse”. It seems that in society today this term is often used to differentiate between members of staff and used as the primary adjective of choice.
But in a world where we are becoming more and more politically correct with gender having less and less influence over a person’s work, is the term “male nurse” really PC?
The world has moved on in recent years. Last year, the gender repricing law was passed, which meant that gender could no longer affect the rate of insurance premiums. Women are now able to become soldiers in the Special Air Service (SAS) special forces regiment, a previously predominantly male profession. There are women employed to help referee professional football matches. Female bus drivers are becoming more and more prevalent, whereas in the past bus driving was seen as a job for men.
In many areas of the public sector, gender differentiation has been addressed, such as in the police force. The term “policeman/woman” is now outdated and only the term “police officer” is recognised as being politically correct.
Should this be the case for nurses too? I have noticed that on the patient call bells on some wards, there is a picture of an outline of a nurse wearing a skirt and hat. Is this politically correct? Does this send a message to men that this is not a role for them?
In modern times, nursing is becoming a less female-dominated profession, but do male nurses still face stigma? If a heavy lifting task is needed and there is a male nurse working on shift, is it fair to ask him to carry out the heavy lifting task just because of his gender?
It feels as though we still have some way to go before we achieve gender equality in nursing.
Mikey Whitehead is a student nurse studying children’s nursing