What a Classic Puzzle Reveals About Gender Bias
Here is a classic riddle that only works when we base our answer on classic gender assumptions.
Q. A father and son have a car accident and are both badly hurt. They are both taken to separate hospitals. When the boy is taken in for an operation, the surgeon (doctor) says ‘I cannot do the surgery because this is my son’.
But how is that possible?
A. The doctor is the boy’s Mother.
This story – called the surgeon’s dilemma – is often used to demonstrate the way that unconscious bias works.
If you didn’t come up with this answer, don’t worry you are not alone. It seems less than half of those who try to solve the surgeon’s dilemma struggle, but that’s the point of the riddle, to unearth our own biases and show that we all have biases, particularly when it comes to gender and the roles they are expected to play in society.
We all know that sexism, gender stereotypes, and prejudice have hurt different groups throughout history, particularly women, but it can also work in the reverse. Take for example nursing. The very term ‘nurse’ doesn’t really help men. It has many connotations that contribute to the overall sexism that pervades the industry. It brings up images of women nursing children and of traditional, female nurses walking the hospital floor. Neither of these images are wrong, they simply don’t help the problem.
Men in Nursing
Men in nursing and other caring industries dominated by women can face prejudices and challenges because of their gender. More than nine out of 10 of Australia’s 365,000 nurses are female, meaning only 7.2 per cent of Queensland’s nursing workforce are male, according to the data from the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia. Sep 1, 2018
Addressing the shortage of men in nursing
Actively promoting and engaging men to enter the nursing profession will be a key policy that adds to buffer the looming deficiencies of nurses in our health and aged care systems. To do this we need to remove society’s stereotypical barriers for men wishing to become nurses and promote an image that it is ok for men to care.
Nursing is a fulfilling career choice for men and one which has a number of benefits to the healthcare profession. The “desire to help people” or “ability to make a difference” have been highlighted by men as an influencing factor to pursue a nursing career. Other important factors that have led males to a nursing career include a stable career, being influenced by a family member or close friend who was already a nurse and a desire to secure a job with a variety of career paths.
Rising demand for Male nurses
There is a growing demand for more nurses in general and that the demand for male nurses is currently on the rise. Male nurses are increasing their presence at the bedside, hospital, clinic, and nursing home. Male nurses are bringing balance to the profession, which benefits patients as a whole. If you are male and thinking about becoming a nurse, don’t hesitate to explore the career and most importantly look into yourself to ensure that this is the right career for you. Nursing is a challenging job and one that requires hard work, integrity, and dedication.
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