I’m going to first start out this post with this clip from the movie Meet the Parents. This scene probably was meant to be funny and uncomfortable in a satirical way, but in the end, the scene just creates injustices for both females and males.
If you skipped the scene, couldn’t open the video in YouTube, or said this ad is dumb, this clip just shows Robert DeNiro (the potential father-in-law) degrading Ben Stiller (future son-in-law) about being a male nurse. The in-laws consider Stiller a failure for being a male nurse instead of a doctor, despite Stiller explaining his decision for choosing nursing instead of a medical degree. Why do people look at nursing as a lesser profession, not as noble and prestigious as a doctor? I suppose it’s in the eye of the beholder. It especially irks me that male nurses probably face some degree of questioning in regards to nursing.
Currently, I am in a predominantly female profession. Nursing has long had its history of being a woman’s job. Since women are naturally nurturing, compassionate, and tender, they have a tendency to lean toward nursing and succeed in it. Right?
That statement is fabricated from a very archaic way of thinking. I don’t consider myself a bra burning, Alanis Morissette blasting, Feminine Mystique quoting feminist (I am stereotyping here which is terrible in light of my current topic. Forgive me!). HOWEVER, the idea that men cannot or should not fulfill roles as compassionate, loving, and nurturing caregivers because women are better suited is absurd. The idea that men must be strong, unyielding and dominating is taxing on both males and females. Both men and women can be competent, strong and compassionate nurses. Every male is a son, brother, father, uncle or whatever else. Who’s to say that he cannot be tender and loving in these roles? Who hasn’t seen a father be loving when it came to his children? Or men showing affection to their significant other? On the other side, every female is a daughter, sister, mother, aunt or whatever. She can be strong and unyielding. We’ve all seen it, and most of us have experienced it. If any of you had a grandma like mine, you knew she was like a boss….and then some.
Why do these gender stereotypes still exist? As a modernized society, we have evolved so much in the last 30 years in terms of race and gender. I feel like we have reached a plateau phase in terms of gender equality. People say women have an equal shot at high powered careers, and men are more comfortable as stay-at-home dads. But is this really true? How many female CEOs are there in Fortune 500 companies? 22! which is about 4.2% (http://money.cnn.com/magazines/fortune/fortune500/2013/full_list/). The numbers unfortunately don’t match what we think. As a female in the workforce, I still experience gender inequalities. Is it proper for a doctor to see a male nurse as a team member but a female nurse as a subordinate? Or the “You’re just a nurse; I’m the doctor. You follow my orders.” (Always my favorite…) I understand that everyone needs to prove themselves in one way or another in a workplace, and respect is not just given. Work to earn it, and work to keep it. But these occasional subconscious or conscious defaults to gender stereotypes that diminish people’s knowledge, hard work, or professionalism because of gender makes me want to go picket with Feminine Mystique quotes.
As I re-launch myself into software (a very male dominated field), I hesitate briefly thinking of what inequalities that may exist there. This could range from preferential treatment because I am female in a male dominated field, or it could be differential treatment because I am female in a male dominated field. I hope in 30 years from now I can look back and think that I worried too much about it. And everyone was treated the same. No better. No worse. Not separate.