A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about the search for camaraderie often sought by men in nursing. In the process, I expressed the viewpoint that men in nursing need more than the physical presence of other men in the workplace. They need camaraderie with like-minded men.
This strikes me as an important point to consider by those seeking to increase gender diversity within nursing. It may not be sufficient to increase the frequency of encounter between men in nursing. I often encounter other men in nursing with little if any thought given to the proportion of my nursing colleagues overall who are men. However, I do sense predictability in my interactions with them, a tacit understanding that our professional contact will be of a certain nature and quality.
I suspect this predictability has something to do with the underlying psychology of men. I don’t intend to describe that psychology at this point, but if this is the case, then it stands to reason that men should be able to adapt to the patterns of behavior of other men more readily than they do to the behavior of women.
Those who work toward increasing gender diversity in nursing often seem to begin with increasing gender diversity in nursing schools. While some address the influences on men’s choices to enter the field of nursing, others work toward recruitment and retention of male faculty in nursing schools. Still others consider latent bias in nursing school curricula and the profession as a whole.
When I last wrote about this topic, I mentioned the isolation of men as a dominant theme among men in nursing, noting that it may be an outgrowth of the uneven gender distribution of nurses. Just to reiterate, in some contexts, there may not be enough men in the workplace for them to encounter each other professionally with great frequency.
This raises the issue for me of whether or not some of the interactions between men in nursing would be the same if men were not such a small minority of the nursing workforce. Some of the predictability of male-to-male interactions between nursing colleagues may be the result of the contrast between men as a small minority and the large majority of women.
If men were to achieve parity with women in the nursing workforce, it is possible that the nature of nurse-to-nurse interactions in general would change significantly. If this were to happen, how dramatic would the change be for nurses, for health care professionals, for patients and their families, for society in general?
I’d like to learn what others think about this. What do you as a reader of this blog think? Have you come across any research on this topic?