Hello, my name is Ricky, and I am an undergraduate children’s nurse.
When choosing GCSEs at school I chose to do child development. However, I was approached by one of the teachers who questioned me about choosing the subject.
He proceeded to strongly advise me against doing child development because I was male and watching videos of women giving birth would be uncomfortable for me and the female pupils within the class. Instead, I studied geography, but approaching year 11 I sought to attend an open day at the college.
Walking into the college was a nervous yet exciting experience, thinking about new horizons beyond school. I walked into a room, full of people passionate about studying childcare and education, with an atmosphere that was almost indescribable. I didn’t have to say anything, nor did anyone have to say anything to me, but at this moment I felt at home.
A woman approached me and introduced herself as Mary-Ann, who was the lead tutor for the childcare and education course at the college. Her enthusiasm blew me away hearing about all the amazing opportunities that the course had to offer.
I didn’t need to ask whether the course was right for me, or even question my previous experiences, because Mary-Ann’s attitude towards having a male on the course really shone through. This helped me to confirm in my mind that a career working with children was right for me and I applied for an interview.
“The overall impression I received through conversation and body language was that I was not suitable because I was male’
The day of the interview arrived I was taken into a big hall, sat down at a small desk where I met the woman who was interviewing me. I instantly lost all confidence, as the expression on her face was not a welcoming one.
The interview had many aspects to it, but the overall impression I received through conversation and body language, was that I was not suitable because I was male.
I walked into the corridor heartbroken, feeling that my dream of working with children was over when I saw Mary-Ann. I told her that I didn’t perceive the interview going well due to the personal opinions of the woman interviewing me. Mary-Ann told me not to worry, as she had already got to know me at the open day, and she believed I would be an asset on the course.
I was gobsmacked when I received the news stating I had got onto the course. After receiving such negativity previously, my dream of working with children was now a reality.
College began, and I met the most amazing group of people I am proud to call my friends. I went from being a shy teenager in school, who felt suppressed by a system that wasn’t accepting of who I wanted to be, to a confident opinionated individual.
However, I received the most support from Mary-Ann who went above and beyond her job role and has been such an inspiration in my life. Not only did she make me realise that a male could work with children, she supported me through placement, with assignments and even helped me get a job as a nanny in Greece. Although, most of all, she helped me come to terms with who I am as an individual.
Now I am an undergraduate children’s nurse.
As such, I now strive to make a positive impact in a child’s life, ensuring that I am a positive male role model for children when they are accessing children’s healthcare services.
I hope that my story will inspire other men to consider a career in caring for children, while eliminating outdated perceptions based on gender.
Ricky Baker is a second-year undergraduate children’s nurse at Worcester University