Exploring occupational gender-role stereotypes of male nurses: a South African study
Over the last two decades, there has been a paradigm shift of men moving into female dominated occupations. Although men are taking occupation in the nursing profession, male nurses remain at a relatively high shortage in the health profession. Resistance and reluctance of men pursuing nursing as a profession emanate from the attached stereotypes that accompany male nurses. Occupational gender role stereotypes are eminent in both female dominated occupations and male dominated occupations. The objective of this study was to investigate the experiences of occupational gender-role stereotypes about male nurses from both an in-group and out-group perspective. This research study was of a qualitative nature, within the social constructivism paradigm. A combination between the phenomenological and hermeneutic approaches was used to reach the objectives of this research study. A combination of snowball and purposive sampling was used, together with a multiple case study strategy. Participants that were involved in this research study (N=30) consisted of male nurses, female nurses and discharged patients who were selected from different public health institutions across South Africa. The representation of the population was diverse and included male, female, various age groups and different racial groups. Semi-structured interviews were conducted in collecting data, and thematic analysis was used to analyse data. Themes, sub-themes and characteristics were extracted from the data and direct quotations of the participants' responses. It was found that both in-group and out-group participants are aware of stereotypes that are attached to male nurse. The results of this study indicated that negative stereotypes were most prominent relating to existing stereotypes of male nurses. It was reported that male nurses are often faced with difficulties in the nursing profession because of being a male nurse within a female dominated occupation. The responses of male nurses indicated that they experience stereotypes on different levels, namely the behavioural, cognitive and emotional levels. Results further indicated that the work and work performance of male nurses are also being influenced by these stereotypes. However, some male nurses did report that they are not bothered by stereotypes. Out-group participants (i.e. female nurses and discharged patients) revealed that the stereotypes about male nurses cause them to experience different thoughts, behaviours and emotions towards these male nurses. However, some of the out-group participants did indicate that they are objective and do not stereotype. Participants in this study reported that out-group stereotypic perceptions originate from various sources, such as the clinical environment, the history of the nursing profession and one's upbringing. Recommendations were made for future research and practice.
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