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Will Nursing Get the Same Respect as Male Dominated Professions?

Submitted by on August 1, 2013 – 11:10 PM 2 Comments

old_nursesWomen in particular, have taken on the hardest life challenges for hundreds of years in order to be seen as equal to that of their male counterparts. Since the time of Enlightenment in the 18th century, women began to realize that they were just as intelligent and able to learn new skills just as men, so there should be no reason that they shouldn’t be able to take part in the same activities as well as work outside the home. In the 20th century women were given even more options pertaining to the type of work that they could pursue. For centuries women have always been suppressed by society, particularly by men.


Women fought a long and hard battle, but things did start to change for the better at the turn of the 19th century, when the government started to take part in helping women become equal. The first woman was appointed to the police force in 1910. The Sex Disqualification Removal Act of 1919 allowed for women to become lawyers, veterinarians and civil servants. Today, women account for over 45% of the world’s workforce.


This was a brief overview of females’ entry into workforce. Let us now understand how nursing – a female dominant profession came into existence and paved its way to the current status of one of the highly respectable female dominated professions. Let me lay stress on this that the basis of nursing, a women dominated profession is not laid by the modern women but was laid centuries ago when the first Muslim nurse was pronounced “Rufaidah” which is a noun derived from the verb ‘rafada’, which means providing help and support for others and which is one of the corner stone in the faith.


Nursing was historically viewed as an extension of a women’s role in the home. However this image has vanished in this present era because of the contribution of women’s role in nursing profession. The history of nursing has been distinctly linked to a tradition of caring. Nurses have felt a true responsibility to reach out to those in need and to advocate on their behalf.


Mathews (2010) states that the evolution of modern nursing from a vocation, to the discipline and profession of nursing, began in the late 1800s as Florence Nightingale articulated her views about how nurses should be trained and educated and how patient care should be provided. Women, as an extension of their maternal functions, possess expressive, emotional and caring qualities, while men are naturally more instrumental, rational, scientific and decisive. The history of nursing reveals a pattern of recurrent issues that the profession has been required to confront overtime. Some of these issues have included maintenance of standards for the profession, autonomy for nurses and maintenance of control of professional nursing practice.


Nursing is an ultimate academic discipline and practice profession to have been shaped by women leadership. Though, nursing profession has also addressed phenomena such as nursing shortages, new categories of healthcare providers and ethical dilemmas. Yet, each decade has brought new insight into ways the profession can better meet these challenges. Today there is more focus on the quality of care and professional activities of practitioners such as professional autonomy, accountability and rational foundation for independent practices.


Nursing students are trained to take responsibility for the improvement of healthcare services and to face the demands of complex and quickly occurring changes. Over the decades nursing education moved into institutions of higher education. Colleges and universities initiated school of nursing, and nursing began to move in the academy under the control of nurse educators, not physicians. Degree programs equip nurses and midwives to work in many settings and roles and draw on a wider range of knowledge and skills and capacity to make complex assessments and clinical decisions and deliver therapeutic interventions in situations that are often unpredictable. That is why attending a nurse practitioner program at Gwynedd Mercy or another institution is so crucial for the development of young nurses.


Further since 1960s and 1970s doctoral programs in nursing were started across the world. As far as the status of nursing profession is concerned, organizations such as The Honor Society of Nursing, known as Sigma Theta Tau International (STTI) has played a vital role. STTI has always been respected for women’s work and their wide-scale research projects and innovation in the nursing profession. Since its foundation in 1922, STTI has partnered with its members as well as respected health care organizations to provide leadership in the nursing community.


Nurses believe by the year of 2020 STTI hopes to be the organization of choice for scholarship, knowledge, leadership, global health issues for nurses. This will be possible because of the intellect and leadership of members, predominantly women who will influence decisions globally, regionally and locally. The above arguments prepare a sound ground to consider nursing – a female dominant profession to have achieved the same status as that of a male dominant profession.


The philosopher of the enlightenment era Jean-Jacques Rousseau proposed that “It is in a woman’s best nature to be subordinate and their duty was to please and delight men.” Women have gone through many hardships for centuries in order to be seen as equals among men. It has been a hard fight to find their way into the workforce, that for so long was dominated by men. But conditions now are not hopeless. Women now are touching the new horizons of the success and equality.


Over the last 2 decades nursing has gained the status of a “profession” from just an occupation. The lacking is not in the women but in the policies of the governments. But now the women are empowered to change the concept of the “glass ceiling” as the unreachable barrier that keeps women from rising to the upper rungs. Women’s achievements in every profession especially in nursing make the world realize that they will continue to benefit the economy and world’s future.


About the Author: Sahreen Malik Bhanji, BScN 2010 from the Aga Khan University School of Midwifery and Nursing, Pakistan, where she is now pusruing MScN. She worked as a registered nurse at the medical surgical ward for two years at the Aga Khan University Hospital Karachi, Pakistan. Sahreen can be reached at [email protected]


About this article: This article is competing for the JPMS International Medical Writing Contest 2013

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  • Sahreen Malik

    please like this and comment on this blog

  • Sam

    Nice Article and Nursing is a great Profession. Allah insaniat ki Khidmat karnay walon ko pasand karta hay.