Gender Differences in Nursing

Gender Differences in Nursing


For a long time, nursing has been associated with the female gender. The first nurses were women, and the trend has continued for years without substantial change. The profession grew from a point of care provision to a recognized profession and the roles changed. Though it has been proved that the satisfaction of the patient is not related to the gender of the nurse, still there are findings that illustrate support the argument[1]. This paper seeks to show why the profession has been dominated by women and why there are low men recording especially in the US and Canada.

Gender differences in nursing

The issue of gender in the nursing profession within Canada and the US needs to be examined. Some studies have suggested that the patient satisfaction in some instances has a very slight link with the nurse’s gender. The career patterns between male and female nurses have been very distinct before, but the two have a shared link now. Women in their career patterns are said to take up lateral moves. On the contrary, men make linear career moves. This means that a woman is likely to spend much time in one career compared to a man. For instance, a female nurse will spend much time in the nursing before training for another post. This is commonly known as the certificate gathered syndrome which mostly affects women[2]. On the contrary, men are taking up the linear career whereby they consider a career in which flexibility is fostered. Men are not grossly affected by the certificate gathered syndrome like women[3].

In the nursing context, the option for nurses to stick to the nursing career is based on many factors. The dominance of females has not been willful, but inevitable. There are findings which suggest that female nurses have certificate gatherer syndrome. This is because the dynamics of the labor markets affect women and men differently. The study of both literal and linear career paths show that the issue of minority men in nursing is due to the structural labor markets that favor men than women. The most stated reason for the differences in the population of men and women in nursing career is the children career breaks that are experienced by both men and women. The period taken by women and men to attain nursing status is distinct[4].

The labor markets in the United States and Canada present a dilemma to men in relation to choosing nursing profession as a career. The nursing labor division is characterized by unqualified persons, and the payment for the unskilled has been exceedingly low. Nursing in the United States has been considered a career for the less skilled individuals. Therefore, many men than women find it hard to advance in nursing. With the minimal hopes of advancement, few men have reluctantly joined nursing. The under-representation of men in the nursing career within the US and Canada illustrates an imbalance that should be addressed. There are prevailing stereotypes about nursing. This cannot be ruled out since it has an influence on the Canadian and United States men on their choice of career. The nursing career has continuously been associated with caring and submission. Large numbers of men think that these traits are for women. In addition, the notion that joining the profession will make them look unmanly has made it hard for men to take up the nursing career[5].

There are notions in the United States and Canadian society’s that perceive men as strong and aggressive. The foregoing statement shows that nursing is not in conformity with the society’s expectations. In a society whereby people are used to nursing being a woman’s job, it increasingly becomes hard for a man to get the society’s approval after becoming a nurse. The said stereotypes may appear trivial, but they have played an influencing effect on the choices that men make regarding their careers. In the reasoning of many men, it is unwise to choose a career with negative perceptions whereas there are other options. Approximately, over 94 per cent of nurses in the US, as well as Canada are female[6]. The overwhelming perception that nurses are poorly paid has not helped in making nursing profession attractive to men. The notion is also evident in children’s understanding of the term. They believe that a man cannot be a nurse. This is passed from one generation to another hence making men shun nursing completely.


The foregoing literature shows that the nursing profession has been widely considered as a women career. There are stereotypes that have made it hard to have men joining this profession. The stereotypes evident have continuously reduced the number of men joining the career. The Canadian and American nursing field is highly dominated by women due to the factors discussed above. The negative stereotypes need to be address if the number of men joining the career is expected to go high.


Andrews, Margaret M., and Joyceen S. Boyle. Transcultural Concepts in Nursing Care. Philadelphia: Wolters Kluwer Health/Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2008.

Mackay, Lesley. Nursing a Problem Open. Milton Keynes: University Press, 1989.

Radcliffe, Phillip. Gender differences in career progress in nursing: towards a non essentialist theory. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 30, 3 (1996): 758-768.

Spillerman, Seymour. Careers, labor market structure, and socioeconomic

Achievement. American Journal of Sociology 83: (1977): 551-593.

[1] Lesley Mackay, Nursing a Problem Open. (Milton Keynes: University Press, 1989), p. 15

[2] Phillip Radcliffe, Gender differences in career progress in nursing: towards a non essentialist theory. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 30, 3 (1996), p. 762.

[3] Ibid, p 765.

[4] Lesley Mackay, Nursing a Problem Open. (Milton Keynes: University Press, 1989), p.19

[5] Seymour Spillerman, Careers, labor market structure, and socioeconomic Achievement. American Journal of Sociology 83: (1977), p. 572.

[6] Margaret M, Andrews and Joyceen S. Boyle, Transcultural Concepts in Nursing Care. (Philadelphia: Wolters Kluwer Health/Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2008), p. 315.