Davis Anderson Sociology 3337 Prof. Korinek October 23, 2012 Group 7 Analysis of: Revisiting the Glass Escalator: The Case of Gender Segregation in a Female Dominated Occupation This critical examination and study, done by Karrie Ann Snyder and Adam Isaiah Green, dives into the data of a predominately women’s job, nursing, to find out if men really have a “glass escalator” when it comes to advancing up to top positions and dissects the notion of horizontal segregation.
The glass escalator theory is one that assumes males in female dominated professions are pushed up the ladder to administrative and supervisory positions much easier and faster than women. Throughout the article, they explain the methods used to gather the data, both quantitative and qualitative and provide a plethora of information such as level of education, employment setting, number of years worked, personal interviews etc. They also break down the data and refute claims that although widely believed, may be false. It is somewhat ironic that the topic of this week’s thought-piece paper is on the sexual segregation of nursing.
Just about a week ago I was sitting in the orthodontists office and I looked over at the staff photos on the wall. Dr. Pobanz was in the middle with about 10 ladies on each side of him. That made me go back and think, and I came to the realization that I have never seen a male besides the doctor working in a dentist or orthodontist office. Although it is not exactly a nursing position, it is a similar occupation and I would imagine has similar statistics concerning sex segregation. In my mind, it is just expected that most all nurses are female.
It seems that back a few decades ago males were unheard of in the nursing field, but today they are becoming more common. It is interesting that this occupation is so stereotypical female that studies of this magnitude are conducted. So why is it that nursing is so dominated by females? Well, nursing is associated with caring for others, being affectionate, and serving under someone of higher ranking. Males face strong societal pressure that steer them from entering occupations such as this as they do not want to be perceived as feminine or gay because of the nature of their job.
Only 5. 5 percent of nurses in 2000 were men, a very small minority. Many people think that of the few men that are in the nursing field, it is easier for them to move up to higher ranking positions. The face is that in administrative and supervisor positions women are just about as likely as men to hold those spots. The problem is that many people believe the societal stereotype that it is easier for men to gravitate toward the top positions, when in reality it is just about the same for both sexes.
In the article, Carol Kleinman is referenced when she says that men, relative to women, enjoy systematic advantages in the nursing industry in terms of promotion and hiring (p273). The findings from this research suggest something very different than the assumptions of others. “As shown in Table 3, men do not receive higher returns for education, nor is there a significant interaction between years as a nurse and sex. These results suggest that, contrary to the glass escalator hypothesis, men are not promoted earlier in their career to top positions. (p281) The data suggests that rather than there being a segregation of male and females vertically among the sectors of nursing, horizontal segregation is much more likely, meaning grouping of gender in specialized areas is common. Certain areas seem to be made up of more of one gender than the other. For example, men are over represented in ICU, OR, and ER while women are over represented in outpatient, post anesthesia, labor/delivery, and general medical-surgical departments (p286).
When interviewed about why they chose their specialization, men seemed aware of the gender connotations of their job, while women rarely mentioned it as a factor. This is a direct cause of why segregation across different areas of work is much more prevalent than segregation through the administrative ranks. The name nurse often carries with it negative connotations in the eyes of males. It is inherently feminine in its perception and plays a large role in scaring men away or causing them concern about what others think and leading them into positions that are thought of as more manly.
Nursing is unique in the wide range of specializations that it offers, and that may play a part as to why horizontal segregation is so widespread as opposed to vertical. Oftentimes males seek positions of prestige and in nursing those desires may be filled by working in masculine roles as opposed to higher-ranking positions that would typically validate success in other professions. From the data gathered and personal accounts reviewed, it seems that men chose positions thought of as more masculine based primarily on fulfilling the conceptions of gender identity.
Financial interests and personal desires do have an effect, but it seems that sticking to the gender “rules” is the largest factor in determining the careers of practicing male nurses. The data in this study is vast and complex. It is hard to determine the sole contributor to the occurrence of gender segregation in the nursing practices. So many factors play into every individuals decisions, but signs point overall to an adherence to gender norms and affirmation for males that their occupation is not completely a woman’s job.
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