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Nursing is one of the fastest growing professions and will continue to be so for many years due to the population of the baby boomers retiring from the workforce in the next decade. Nursing is largely dominated by women, but it has not been historically so, until Florence Nightingale brought female soldiers to the Crimean war (Mill & Fremson, 2018). Unfortunately, just like most professions, racial and sexual inequality exists in the nursing profession. I will discuss the different forms of racial and sex inequality, how we see institutionalized inequality in the nursing profession, and the equal treatment of all nurses and nursing assistants.
There are different forms of racial and sex inequality that exist. According to Newman (2017), a person’s race, such as African Americans and Latinos, might have them question the reliability and trustfulness of the police. Special education is given to young African American males in how to interact with the police and report more harassment than Caucasians males (Newman, 2017). Racial inequality occurs when a minority group tries to socialize in a school, community, or work place that is primarily another racial group. Sexual inequality can also occur when a female wants to enter a primarily male dominated field, such as engineering or the law profession (Newman, 2017). A female has to work harder and longer to prove their abilities, while often receiving lower pay than their male counterparts (Newman, 2017).
Some of the ways that we see institutionalized inequality within the nursing profession is that males that chose nursing as their chosen profession are often viewed as less masculine, as shown in the movie, Meet the Parents, where the man that was a nurse was made fun of by the parent (Newman, 2017). Nursing can also be seen as a “woman job” since most of the nurses traditionally in America has been nurses (Newman, 2017). In my practice, there are many times when female and male patients specifically request to not have a male nurse because they feel uncomfortable.
According to Price-Glynn & Rakovski (2012), men entering occupations such as nursing that is female-dominated, will often advance quicker and receive higher salaries and positions of authority than their female counterparts. This is also a form of sexual inequality that is seen as well in the nursing profession. Unfortunately, nursing assistants that are African American and Latino are discriminated against in the nursing profession, while this was not seen as often with Caucasian nursing assistants (Price-Glynn & Rakovski, 2012). The articles “Who Rides the Glass Elevator?” and “Forget about the Stigma”, speak about the stigmas and inequalities in the nursing profession towards nurses and nursing assistants (Miller & Fremson, 2018).
Despite these inequalities in nursing, there are more men entering the nursing profession than ever before. According to Miller & Fremson (2018), some of the reasons that men find the nursing profession appealing for a career is the vast job opportunities, great pay and benefits, along with working twelve hour shifts that allow for more days off in the week to spend with family and pursuing social interests and activities. Interestingly, men are entering the nursing profession for many of the same reasons that women have done so. In my practice, we have several male nurses and they are just as capable and caring as the female nurses. We also have a few male aides that are extremely good at their jobs and they get recommended for Awards and recognition as often as the female nurses. In some cases, men patients find it more comfortable to have male nurses and I have found that some older women patients especially prefer the male nurses and light up when they come in the patient’s room.
In conclusion, there will probably always be racial and sexual inequalities in the workplace, since stereotypes and stigmas are hard to overcome. Fortunately, in the nursing profession, these stigmas and stereotypes barriers are starting to be broken down so that more men, as well as, African American and Latinos are entering the nursing profession. Men are starting to seek nursing positions of nurse anesthetists and nurse practitioners, as well as, nursing manager and supervisorial positions. Hopefully, one day an employee will be hired and promoted based on their skill and expertise, rather then there ethnicity or sexual orientation.
Miller, C. C. & Fremson, R. (2018). Forget about the stigma: male nurses explain why
nursing is a job of the future for men. New York Times.
Newman, D. M. (2017). Sociology: Exploring the architecture of everyday life. (11th
ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, Inc.
Price-Glynn, K., & Rabovski, C. (2012). Who rides the glass escalator? Gender, race
And nationality in the national nursing assistant study. Work, Employment,
And Society 26(5), 699-715. DOI: 10.1177/09500|701245|634
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