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Double Standard for Nurses?

Double Standard for Nurses?

Is there a double standard at your hospital?

Nealeigh Mitchell | NursingLink

June 10, 2010

Let’s face it ladies. The fight’s not fair in the hospital. We may be picking away at the salary gap but we still only earn 77 cents to every man’s dollar, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. And despite filling more seats at nursing school, fewer than 3 percent of Fortune 1000 CEOs are women.

So how does bias run rampant in the staff room? Long story short, men and women are judged, rewarded, and even punished differently for doing the same nursing job.

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Unjustified and unfair? Yes. But the harsh reality remains. The only way to climb the corporate ladder is to recognize how male nurses control the power and alter your behavior accordingly. You’ve got to play the game to get to the top.

Here are a few common stereotypes, misperceptions and actions that encourage or maintain gender inequity.

Men are assertive. Women are aggressive.

It’s a hustle to the top, and the male-female power struggle usually leaves women with the short end of the sword. Males are raised to be cocky and competitive but if a woman dares adopt this “go-getter” attitude, she risks being branded as domineering and difficult. Macho men have a vested interest in keeping women reserved and compliant so they’re quick to call out a bold, budding female nurse. There’s a fine line between scrappiness and combativeness — one that men rarely have to walk.

Men are passionate. Women are emotional.

There’s no crying in the hospital. Alpha males pounce on a sensitive woman like it’s their job. But I’m not just talking about a massive meltdown in the middle of a patient rounds. Everyday emotions get misconstrued. For example, if a man gets irate and defensive over a differing opinion about patient care, he’s applauded for being steadfast and strong. When a woman raises her voice or offers a critique about the way the hospital is run, she’s the disagreeable hothead of the group.

Men scream. Women mutter.

Effective communication is the only way to get ahead. But it’s hard to get a leg up if you’re never heard. Women are too easily drowned out by men’s more emphatic, direct speech, so pick up the bullhorn and demand attention. Tone is crucial but your expressions are equally important. Instead of taking the timid route — like asking everything in the form of a question — ditch the wishy-washy language and speak with conviction. If you don’t have the courage, fake it. Sit up straight, make eye contact, and jump in. You advocate for your patients, so why shouldn’t you advocate for yourself?

Men steer. Women… →


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  • Great_wall_gwt_max50

    bubbabubba

    about 4 years ago

    22 comments

    This article was offensive and should be to other readers as well. I have had both male and female nurses are caregivers and found lliottle difference in them. FEMALE nurses are dominate in the power structure to me and at the college I teach in in the RN program there is not a single male instructor. In some local hospitals male students cannot do OB GYN rotations yet female students are taught to catherize men. Double standard? I think it is more in favor of WOMEN than men in the nursing field.....

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    exacnj

    about 4 years ago

    2 comments

    The author of this article doesn't know squat. Women are, and always have been, more aggresive than males ... they just don't show it in the same way, usually. The women I work with are SO aggressive it's sickening.

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    joeyhere

    about 4 years ago

    2 comments

    Interesting.There are obviously alot more intelligent and thoughtful professionals reading this artlcle than the person that wrote this. My only suggestion for the author is to seek some serious help as she is sorely in need of professional councilling.

  • Foley_cath_max50

    Future_Murse

    about 4 years ago

    2 comments

    Does anyone know how to contact the author of this article? I'd like to send her my two cents.

    I've worked in a hospital for six years, I'm currently enrolled in a nursing school, and I am male.
    This in no way reflects what I've seen in the hospital. If you have yet to work in a hospital please don't base your opinions on this article. this woman obviously has an axe to grind.

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    diprovan_user

    about 4 years ago

    2 comments

    Women make 77% what men make? Really? .. This is a much quoted figure that simply does not make any sense. Think about it for a minute. If a female is paid 77% of what a male makes.. for doing... and this is key...the EXACT SAME JOB, could someone please explain why any male has a job? If an employer can get away with getting the same amount of work and save 77% on payroll, I submit that no male would have a job.

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    DualCareerRN

    about 4 years ago

    2 comments

    Sorry, this is not my experience in 20 years in the medical field.

    I married a lady in the military and have worked at some 10 different hospitals (mostly as an OR nurse, one as a hospital nursing data analyst). Now, I work for an agency so I can pursue a career as a videographer/director of photography in video and independent film. But as an agency nurse, I travel to several different hospitals and health care institutions in the local city metro.

    I have had a grand total of 2 bosses that were male for the entire time span. Every Director of Nursing was female. Every administrative director was also female. Not that I really thought about this until I read this article. Some of my directors have been fantastic bosses, some were okay, just a couple were horrible.

    While I have no preference as to the gender of my supervisor or director. Upon reflection, I find women and men do act differently on the job (this is a broad generality on my part to which there are exceptions for sure). Men tend to be more confrontational and direct, while women like to build a consensus through back channels before acting. Again, this is a generality only.

    In one unit, we rotated the charge position. I can't tell you the number of times a female nurse would call me over for a consultation to complain about the behavior of another nurse. I would inevitably ask, "What did she/he do when you confronted them on this issue?" The answer always was, "Well, I didn't want to bring it up at the time."

    In essence, I think they wanted me to do the "dirty work" for them. I finally had to bring both nurses together in a staff room and hash the trouble or perceived issue out. This was the only way I could deal with the "mugging" of nurses in a manner that kept "tattling" to a minimum. Truthfully, the vast majority of issues were not patient safety or nursing practice related it was all about personality.

    I find nurses tend to be their own worst enemy in getting equal treatment. We tend to "eat our own" and not promote team work and mentoring. How can you advance your position in the work place if you are always sniping at each other. Until we focus on the patient and the team effort, we will always be "just nurses."

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    kgarrison

    about 4 years ago

    20 comments

    I am a failry new nurse and have not had the opportunity to work with male nurses. Instead of comparing male nurses to female nurses, I can see the validity in just examining the characteristics that female nurses often display. Female nurses will eat eachother up instead of supporting and uplifting eachother and working together as a team. I've witnessed this in just a few short months. In addition, I can't agree enough with svoros who mentions that "professors dont take kindly to student who challenge..particularly second-career nurses." When I was a nursing student, I already had a MS from another medical field. My professors were very quick to put me in my place and squelch any comments, questions, or suggestions outside the "norm".

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    lafn63

    about 4 years ago

    16 comments

    An article about the stereotyping of women, stereotypes men. Hmmm. Men and women have different roles in the family, and men are usually in a position to persue professional goals since they do not bear children. I have only seen one man in my nursing career who was catty and petty, but have seen LOTS of female nurses who are this way. Just personal experience. This article is ridiculous. Too bad patient care is not the focus, rather than feminist propaganda.

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    smschafle

    about 4 years ago

    50 comments

    My sister-in-law was an assertive, intelligent, and forthcoming student when she started nursing school, this got her no where, thus she proceeded to become a physician. She is doing very well, today and doesn't regret one minute about leaving nursing. Why should she? I wish I had done the same. Nursing was no place for strong women in the 60' and 70's...I am not sure it is today, either.

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    smschafle

    about 4 years ago

    50 comments

    There was one male in my graduating class in 1975, but he became head nurse of the ER in one years time. I knew back then, that males in nursing would be the future leadership. I was was right. The term coined by a tobacco industry "You've come a long way baby" doesn't fit the nursing profession then or now. As I am almost at retirement age, I can only hope that my daughter will see real change in the nursing, gender roles.

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    Account Removed

    about 4 years ago

    Problem is, nurses are trained to be passive aggressive moaners. I was thrown out of nursing school for doing exactly what you recommended. Nursing professors don't take kindly to students who challenge, take focus and demonstrate self-confidence -- particularly second-career nurses.

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    HRB1976

    about 4 years ago

    2 comments

    While I completely agree with the summaries expressed in this article, as I see first hand how my female collegues fail to follow those guidelines and how that affects their career. However, I would like to say that I take issue with the tone of this article. Sentences like: "Alpha males pounce on a sensitive woman like it's their job" because "When a woman raises her voice or offers a critique about the way the hospital is run, she’s the disagreeable hothead of the group" also serves to perpetuate gender bias. By writing this type of commentary, and by publishing it, this forum is now making it seem that ALL males feel this way and that women should not speak out at all for fear of being ostracized for their views. This is simply not true, and is incredibly inflammatory to my point of view. If you want to end gender inequity in the work place I'm all for it, but please think about how you're trying to get that message public.

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