Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Where Are All The Male Nurses? (Part 1)

Something has piqued my curiosity in the last little while. Perhaps you can help me out with understanding this phenomenon.

The gender gap in the work force.

There is a growing concern that the majority of workers in the science and technology industry are male. This is causing people to ask "Why aren't women going into science and technology?" Here is an example of one such article:

In the past year I've seen many-an-article, television ad, and banner-ad on various web sites showing concern over this.

This is a part of the larger concern re: the gender income gap; men earn more than women. A lot of that can be explained away by how most high paying jobs are occupied by men. Sure, most CEOs are men. Having attended both college and univetsity I saw that some programs were conspicuously male, and others female, and some a mix.

I started off in Aviation. Women represented just over 10% of the class. I then switched into Computer Engineering. My graduating class was 100% men. Mind you, there were only four of us. But in the larger class of Computer Engineering, Computer Programming, System Support, and Networking it would have been about 10% female. A walk through the college would show that the automotive wing was mostly male, and the hair dressing students were about 99% female.

In university, most engineering students and computer science students are male. Most language students were female. (Although my experience with business students is about half and half. There may be a gap there, but it's small enough to not notice by just looking.)

So there's this push to get more women in high paying fields, especially science and technology. Or, stated another way, to get more women into traditionally male dominated fields.

So my question is this:

Where's the push to get men into female dominated fields?

Of course, the first objection to this question is that female dominated fields are usually low paying, such as hair dressing, and beautification (or whatever it's called). Okay, so maybe we shouldn't be pushing boys to go en mass into hair dressing, or early childhood education just to even things out. (Average starting salary for early childhood education graduates is about $12 000/year.)

But what about nursing? Most nursing students are female. Nurses don't make minimum wage. They can do quite well for them selves. Ahh, but are there nursing jobs out there? YES! We're not producing enough nurses to fill the demand. In fact we're facing a dangerous shortage of nurses! When was the last time you saw an ad trying to recruit men into nursing?

Now, don't misread me. I'm not saying we shouldn't try to recruit girls into science and technology, or other high-paying fields. But we should see both sides of the equation, lest we
be accused of holding a double-standard.

When it comes to making the work force equitable, as a society we're still not 100% consistent. While studying computer science in University most students were either from Bangladesh, or from Sault Ste. Marie, and were white. There were a few Asians in the mix too. But I noticed a conspicuous lack of Native's. Yet, I hadn't seen any push to up the Native population in computer science. Yet Algoma's Native population would be very high compared to most other universities I'm sure. (I could be wrong. I have done no research on this.)

Or we could take a different approach to thing. Instead of obsessing over how certain fields need representation equal to the general population make-up we could take a novel approach and encourage people, both boys and girls, to explore their talents, skills, aptitudes, desires, and choose a life-path based on those things.

Nah....that'd never work.

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