Old Biases Continue Impacting Healthcare

Old Biases Continue Impacting Healthcare

Inverse Relationships of Males and Female Gender Disparities

Gender differences in healthcare careers and roles is a controversial area of discussion. The roles of women as doctors and specialists have radically changed over the last fifty years but men’s roles have been much slower to change. Men are still a minority in many traditionally female healthcare careers such as nursing. This problem is an organizational culture issue in which old stereotypes are pervasive within the nursing field. Coupled with this issue is the fact that diversity planning often overlooks inverse relationships of males and female gender disparities. This problem has a deleterious effect on the nursing field.

There are numerous healthcare careers which are disproportionately filled by women. According to the BLS (2016), most positions in the following fields are held by women:

Old Biases Continue Impacting Healthcare2

(BLS, 2017)

There is a large gender gap in these fields and it is important to understand that these gender differences reflect the same issues and benefits of underrepresentation in these fields that underrepresentation of women in male dominated fields experience.

Men are faced with several challenges which disadvantage them in traditionally female healthcare roles. The most obvious challenge is cultural attitudes and norms. In many areas of nursing, women are more readily received especially by women patients such as in the fields of obstetrics and gynecology (Madoka, Rose, & Dianne, 2006). This is in contrasted to women desiring to have male white doctors. This attitude is rooted in a deep bias towards male nurses who are perceived as underachievers despite their willingness and hard work to be nurses (Madoka, Rose, & Dianne, 2006).

The problem of attitudes is exasperated by the issue of stereotyping. Studies of stereotyping of male nurses have consistently shown an issue with homophobia in the healthcare system as men in these positions have been classified as gay (Harding, 2007). This has led to role strain and increased turnover for male nurses as well deterring men from entering the nursing profession (Harding, 2007).

The challenges to males in nursing positions is a serious issue since there is an ongoing shortage of nurses in the profession. The decrease in nurses in healthcare has continued to progress since 2001. Despite these challenges to men in nursing, other roles in healthcare have presented benefits for men entering them.

Even though men are stereotyped for being nurses, they are higher paid:

Almost 9 out of 10 registered nurses are women; they are paid 91 cents on the dollar compared with men in the same position. More than 84% of the 1.4 million nursing, psychiatric and home-health aides are women. Their paychecks represent 83% of men’s earnings (Herman, 2015).

Being male appears to continue to provide the benefit of higher pay even in fields that are dominated by women. This is true across a broad spectrum of women dominated fields including physicians’ assistants, therapists, physical therapists, and dieticians (Herman, 2015). Despite having to endure negative attitudes and stereotypes, males tend to earn more money than their female counterparts in these fields.

The challenges and benefits to men in traditionally female roles in healthcare represent a larger underlying issue of diversity. This issue has been focused largely on ethnic and racial disparities but when viewed through the lens of gender (males) there is clearly a problem. This is a serious issue because disparities in healthcare pose ethical and moral issues for society. More importantly, these issues restrict the effectiveness of healthcare.

The largest shortages for professionals in all fields of healthcare are in the poorest and underserved communities (Mayberry, Mili, & Ofili, 2000). Attitudes and stereotypes which limit males from entering these fields have a negative impact on underserved communities. For example, Hispanic and African American healthcare professionals are more likely to work in their respective communities and limiting anyone by gender decreases the number of workers in these communities. This problem is readily seen in the fact that black male nurses are the lowest percentage of the nursing population at below 4% (BLS, 2017).

Gender is an issue that is intrinsically linked with other diversity issues that hampers healthcare efforts. Most importantly this problem limits access to healthcare as well as limiting the effectiveness of it by deterring “racial and ethnic minority patient choice and satisfaction” (Mayberry, Mili, & Ofili, 2000). Diversity studies continue to reflect that increased diversity provides better active learning, more creative problem solving, as well as increased empathy for racial and cultural differences (Mayberry, Mili, & Ofili, 2000).

Currently, policies are aimed at diversity as a whole and not specifically towards increasing the presence of men in the nursing field. The problem is still being realized as it shows the inverse of gender and glass ceiling issues. However, leadership in nursing healthcare seem unconcerned with this issue despite shortages of healthcare workers in certain fields and in minority communities.


BLS. (2017). Household Data Annual Averages: Employedd persons by detaled occupation, sex, race, and hispanic or Latina ethnicity. Retrieved from Bureau of Labor Statistics :

Harding, T. (2007). The Construction of Men Who are Nurses as Gay. Journal Advanced Nursing, 60(6), 636–644.

Herman, B. (2015, March 16). Male-female pay disparities abound in healthcare professions. Retrieved from Modern Helathcare:

Madoka, I., Rose, C., & Dianne, W. (2006). Male Nurses’ Experiences Of Providing Intimate Care For Women Clients. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 55(5), 559–567.

Mayberry, R. M., Mili, F., & Ofili, E. (2000). Racial and ethnic differences in access to medical care. Medical Care Research and Review, 57, 108–45.

Photo by CDC on Unsplash


Triola Vincent. Wed, Feb 10, 2021. Old Biases Continue Impacting Healthcare Retrieved from

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