Naturally, people find it very troubling when someone holds a job traditionally associated with the opposite gender, but new research suggests that it's inaccurate and unwise to mock the male nurse responsible for jamming a needle into your arm. It's hard to belive that our ignorant stereotypes could be wrong, but it turns out that not all guys who go into nursing are girly men.
People have considered male nurses to be effeminate for decades, and sadly Lenny Kravitz's performance in Precious failed to spark a shift in public opinion. Many men are hesitant to enter the profession and take on a lifetime of taunting from people who are ostensibly adults, so researchers from East Tennessee State University took on the noble task of disproving the stereotype. From LiveScience:
In the new study, the researchers surveyed 109 current nursing students (81 females and 21 males) from 37 states. In surveying students, the researchers aimed to make sure that any differences between the study participants were not due to prolonged work as a nurse.
Participants were shown a list of 30 characteristics - such as affectionate, willing to take a stand and gentle - and asked to indicate how well each characteristic described them,on a scale of 1 to 7. Ten characteristics were stereotypically male, 10 were stereotypically female, and 10 were not stereotypical of either gender. Answers were used to calculate a "masculine" and feminine" score for each of the subjects.
The average masculinity score for male nursing students was 5.3 out of 7, compared to 4.9 for other male students. The study, which was published in the American Journal of Men's Health, excitedly declares that male nurses are still manly men, though the researchers found that they also score higher for feminine traits. Guys in nursing aren't just paragons of masculinity. If you believe the highly subjective study results, they're unique because they're comfortable displaying both stereotypically masculine and feminine traits.
Researchers concluded that based on their study, "Efforts should be made to counteract the prevailing belief that male nurses are effeminate." We agree, but while we're at it why not work to undo gender assumptions about all jobs? We've had about four or five decades to adjust to the idea that people can go into whatever profession they want. Let it be known that it's no longer acceptable to break into a fit of giggles when you see a male flight attendant, a female construction worker, or a very masculine nurse.
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