Gender Bias in Nursing

Gender Bias in Nursing

Gender bias is common in nursing. It is my own experience of facing gender bias in my own institution. When I was working as an Instructor in my institution, there was an opportunity for me to get a promotion but was denied and it was given to a female colleague. As I was working there for the last three years with an outstanding performance for all those years in my opinion and that of many others, it was my right to be promoted to that post.

But the head of my institute had promoted a female who had less experience and a lower level of performance although she had the same qualifications. I was in shock and she did not give me any reason for that. As cited in Rasch, Sherrod, and Sherrod (2006)“ the barriers confronted by men in nursing school are pervasive, consistent and have changed surprisingly little during the past few decades” ( pp 47).

My viewpoint is that gender bias is occurring in nursing education as well as nursing practice. Gender bias in nursing is common in Pakistan. There is no male in a higher position in nursing in Pakistan. There are few institutions in Pakistan you can find males but they are not in high positions in nursing. Different kinds of literature have shown that men experience gender bias in nursing education and services, as according to BBC news only 10% of males are in nursing. It means that it is difficult for a male who wants to do nursing.

Nursing all over the world has always been a female dominant profession. As cited in Rasch (2005) “a number of gender barriers for men in the nursing education process, mainly due to the feminization of this process and the profession” (pp47). It should be acknowledged those females are in great numbers than males in nursing. But it does not mean that males should be suppressed in nursing and their rights should be violated.

Moreover, another cause of gender bias is social isolation, and males have not been acknowledged as a vital part of nursing. This is supported by Rasch (2005) “no history of men in nursing was presented in texts or the classroom and textbooks and faculty referred to the nurse as “she rather than she/he” (pp-28). In the history of nursing, you will not find any history of male nurses who worked in the nursing profession. These books always discuss the role of women in nursing and their work.

Even other health care members are worried about their presence in nursing. When male joins nursing, they are facing problems like adjusting to a female-dominated profession. They are worried as to whether they will be accepted in nursing and by other health care members. The doctors are also having problems with them and they feel that female nurses should take care of their patients.

Because they are afraid of being challenged and they will show resistance to any mistake done by them. According to Morgan, McMillian, and Ament (2006) “the experience of a male nurse as minority group seems to be that of encountering a lack of social approval, acceptance and adequate role models beginning in nursing school. Perceptions of threats to sexuality, role strain, social isolation and different performance expectations reported by male nursing students indicate that little has changed within the nursing profession” (pp101).

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Male nurses are facing different problems in both government and private settings among which are, disrespect of male nurses and discrimination, therefore, given less or denied opportunities for growth and development in the profession. Here in Pakistan in some provinces, male nurses are not hired and administrations give preferences to female nurses. As all the major posts are held by the male doctors in hospitals and they don’t want any male nurses.

Even female nurses are not accepting and recognizing the role of males in nursing. They show disrespect to them and do not consider them nurses. There are many stereotypes regarding males in nursing like they are not caring and so they cannot give care to the patients. Different studies have shown that even female nurses are not accepting males into nursing. These problems are within nursing especially where female nurses in leadership positions try to frustrate male nurses. As many male nurses have got more knowledge and good communication skills.

One might say that female nurse leaders feel threatened by the presence of highly qualified male nurses in their institutions, and as a result thus not accept them readily. There is also reluctance in males who wants to join nursing as a career. The social construction of nursing as a female profession also inhibits males from entering the nursing profession. The male population in nursing is very low and they give preference to other professions in the medical field and nursing is their lost choice to do it.

This affects the nursing workforce at the hospitals and national levels, as many male nurses seek opportunities outside Pakistan. They go outside the country because they earn more and they are respected outside. They get different opportunities so they can achieve a higher position in nursing. There is evidence that nursing shortages in this country have occurred throughout the profession’s history. It is not only Pakistan’s shortage of nurses that occurs worldwide.

As a result, these males are leaving nursing very quickly. According to a study done in the USA“Recent graduates of the nation’s nursing schools are leaving the profession more quickly than their predecessors, with male nurses bolting at almost twice the rate of their female counterparts, according to a new study.

About 7.5 percent of new male nurses left the profession within four years of graduating from nursing school, compared to 4.1 percent of new female nurses, (University of Pennsylvania researcher, 2002) reported. This is an alarming sign for the nursing profession as already there is a nurse shortage in the world. So it has further increased the shortage of nurses.

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On the other hand, the lack of role modeling for males in nursing contributes to the low numbers of males in nursing. As there are fewer male nurses in the nursing profession and that is the reason they are changing their profession after some time. Because they see no professional growth for them and a lack of opportunities.

They are different literature showing that males are more resigning from the profession than women. In another study by Wynaden, Champan, and Inoue (2006) “men are four times more likely than women to resign from the nursing profession” (pp566). Males are not satisfied with their job and they are leaving jobs. There are few hospitals in which you can see the diversity of both genders in nursing.

The behaviors and attitudes of male nurses in nursing have produced a bad image of male nurses. There are numbers of males who join nursing only to get a degree and go outside the country. They are interested in patient care and the image of nursing. Even other males who are doing nursing, want to change their profession after finishing the nursing course. Some males have got fake degrees of nursing to go to foreign countries for jobs. They are destroying the image of Pakistan as they are doing the wrong practices.

There are many incidents that occurred in the last few years in the U.K by male nurses as a result the government of U.K has banned nurses of Pakistan to do jobs U.K. This is having bad consequences as there are many nurses who want to do further studies and work in the U.K. But now they can, due to a few members who have destroyed the image of nursing, hence causing others to suffer.

So male nurses are also responsible and due to their behavior, they are not accepted in nursing. Furthermore, it has been noted that male nurses have a tendency of preferring teaching and administrative jobs only. This might be the reason why they change jobs after a short while in nursing.

Kurt Lewin’s Model in Enforcing a Positive Change in Gender Bias

Kurt Lewin theorized a three-stage model of change that has come to be known as the unfreezing-change-refreeze model. There are three steps involved in this model. As cited in Heidenthal (2003) “unfreezing means, moving to a new level and the current or old way of doing is thawed” (pp329). We need to create awareness regarding gender biases and how it is affecting the nursing profession. We will remove negative thinking about perceptions of males in nursing. It will be difficult to change the behavior of people regarding male nurses.

Gender Bias In Nursing
Gender bias: a visual representation of the doctor and the nurse from

We need to motivate the nursing leaders to bring solutions to this problem and its recognition. The second stage of the change model is the process of changing behavior. As cited in Heidenthal (2003) “in the next step intervention or change is introduced and explained. The benefits and disadvantages are discussed, and the move to a new level is implemented” (pp329).

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When needed does the implementation of strategies in this stage. When to need to peruse people to support these changes. As it will be difficult because no role models are available for them. We will identify the gap between this stage and the change we want to do it.

The third stage is making changes permanent. We will need to sustain this change as cited in Heidenthal (2003 “refreezing means that the new way of doing is incorporated into the routines or habits of the affected people” (pp329). It will be difficult to sustain this change of gender bias in nursing but reinforcement will be required to change these attitudes.

There are a few steps that could be done to solve gender bias in nursing. The hospitals need to make sure that group diversity should be present in hospitals. Male and female nurses should be given equal chances of recruiting. The male should be respected and their role should be considered vital.

The government needs to make sure about recruiting males in different government hospitals. More opportunities should be given to them for their growth and development. To ensure the delivery of quality patient care hospitals needs to include the recruitment of men into nursing. Identify individual learning styles and needs during performance appraisals for both men and women. Provide educational programs that increase cultural sensitivity, decreasing stereotypes. (Rasch, Sherrod, Sherrod 2005).

Gender Bias
Gender bias in nursing

Male nurses should change their attitude which can change the perception of males in nursing. Awareness regarding nursing needs to be done in schools and colleges. Few male nurses who are sincere with their profession should be made role models to other male nurses. Male needs to be sensitized and ask them about their expectations. After graduation, clinical practice should be given importance and necessary for fresh graduates.


  • B, Sherrod, D, Sherrod, & R, Rasch. (2005).Men at Work. Nursing management. 36(10). 46-51.
  • J, Mcmillian, S, A, Morgan, &P, Ament. (2006). Acceptance of male registered nurses by female registered nurses. Journal of advance nursing. Blackwell. 1(38), 100-105.
  • M, I, Mnurs, R, Chapman, & D, Wynaden. (2006). Male nurses experiences of providing intimate care of women clients. Journal of advance nursing. 5 (55), pp 559-567.
  • Philadelphia. (2002). Is There a Male Nurse in the House? Men Quitting Nursing at Nearly Twice the Rate of Women. Retrieved, March 26, 2008 from http: mht.
  • P, K, Heidenthal. (2003). Nursing Leadership & Management. Change & the conflict resolutions. (pp 329-332). Thomson delimar Learning.

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Gender Bias In Nursing

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