The Icelandic Nurses’ Association has recently announced their intention to pay school fees for young male students, in order to encourage more men to become nurses in Iceland, RÚV reports.
Jobs in nursing have always been seen as essentially female, and in extreme cases even too emasculating for men to undertake. In the past decade, however, the number of male nursing students has increased in various countries across the world. According to research from 2013 by the United States Census Bureau, for instance, “the proportion of male registered nurses has more than tripled since 1970, from 2.7 percent to 9.6 percent.”
In a country known for being at the forefront of the struggle for gender equality, however, the number of male nurses seems to be much lower than in other countries. Only 2% of Icelandic nurses, in fact, are men. “Why is it than in 2018 we only have one gender providing care for sick people?” President of the Association Guðbjörg Pálsdóttir asks. “What is the social norm here? Shouldn’t we reflect the situation of our patients with our services? We have to live in the present.”
As a tentative response to this issue, the association has therefore decided to implement some sort of gender quota system to balance the numbers out, since it has proven to work before in other fields, both in Iceland and abroad. This particular project will last five years and it will begin in autumn.
Students who complete their studies will then be able to receive their school fees back directly from the Association. “We don’t really know why the numbers here haven’t increased like in other countries,” Guðbjörg adds. “But it’s certainly food for thought, and it would be interesting to know why.”
The Association’s decision might be a step in the right direction, but ultimately there needs to be a shift in mentality to change the way we look at positions that have been historically filled by women, including nurses and midwives.
Source: Grape Vine
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