When men take on "women's work"


There’s a lot of talk about opening up various fields to women that have traditionally been performed by men. This is, after all, what Ada Lovelace Day is all about - getting girls and women interested in subjects traditionally seen as the dominion of men. But there is not as much talk about things going the other way, of men doing traditionally female roles (this is not to criticise ALD at all, it has a specific clear aim and is not designed to fix gender discrimination in the work place and should not feel it should have to do so single-handedly).

In the course of work today I came across an article that made me immediately want to post it here (though I managed to control myself and waited until work was over). It’s a few years old (from 2010) but I still thought it was interesting. It’s titled Hospital job title ‘Sister’ dropped for being sexist. There were two bits that made me want to post it here. The first was the subtitle:

Hospitals are abolishing the job title “Sister” to describe senior nurses because it is thought to be sexist

Thought to be sexist??? How can it be thought to be any other way?

The next bit had me laughing out loud:

Dr John Lister, from the patient campaign group London Health Emergency, said: “This is further evidence that hospitals are becoming more and more bureaucratic. The change can only serve to confuse patients.”

Yes, because asking to speak to the ‘Sister’ and being presented with a man isn’t the least bit confusing!

The article points out that 1 in 10 nurses are men now, up from 1 in 100 fifty years ago. I can’t help but wonder if one of the reasons the number is not closer to parity is because men do not see it as a job they can do because it’s full of terminology that is specifically female - sister, matron, etc. I don’t know how well the “Ward Manager” title has spread through the NHS but I know that, at least in my local Trust, Matron is still used regardless of whether the person is male or female. I can’t help but think that changing the name to something more gender neutral would be more appropriate and less confusing for patients.

Oh, in the 'related articles; this came up. I’m not going to spoil the surprise but be prepared for your blood to boil.

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The related article doesn’t work for me. Dammit, I wanted my blood to boil! :wink:



Don’t quite know what happened there. This should work.



I do often get people saying “but what about men in nursing”, and my answer is always “Of course we need more men to go into nursing, and become primary school teachers, and secretaries and receptionists and all that. Please point me to a campaign for such, and I shall support it.” And that usually results, disappointingly, in silence. That’s sad, because I really do want to support the other side of the coin - we can’t have equality for women without equality for men, because ultimately the patriarchy damages men as much as it damages women. The social rules that say women are ill-suited to STEM also say that they ought to go be nurses and primary school teachers and, by implication, say that men should not. So if we support women in STEM we must also support men in nursing. Sadly, there are too many men who do not.



I would like to see more pieces like this.

The ‘masculine mystique’ – why men can’t ditch the baggage of being a bloke

The question is this: 50 years later, are men facing their own “problem with no name”, a “masculine mystique” which imposes rigid cultural notions of what it is to be male – superior, dominant, hierarchical, sexually assertive to the point of abuse – even though society is screaming out for manhood to be something very different?

The piece looks at many of the factors that affect men’s decision to go part time - employers not being open to the idea, coworkers looking down on them for being part time, the fact that only middle-class jobs really allow for the flexibility required, and the gender pay gap which means it’s still financially easier for the men to stay working full time. It also (briefly) points out that the MRAs (though it doesn’t call them that) are focused more on pushing women down than tackling any of the issues men face.