As part of International Men’s Day on 19 November we are highlighting the work we are doing to encourage more men in to the health and social care industries. The diversity that men can give to this growing industry is an untapped resource and we are working with the University of Dundee, NHS and private care providers to help address the gender imbalance.
Our project “Men into Care” will be kicking off early next year with male nursing students, male carers and male nurses delivering workshops to S3 male pupils within Dundee and Angus schools. We will then follow this up with more activity when the pupils are in S4 which will give them a good grasp of the skills and qualities needed, an awareness of training methods and career pathways. As a team we have been inspired by the positivity of all within the industry to engage young male carers and we are looking forward to getting this programme up and running.
Here are some quotes from male staff at Balhousie Care Group;
‘’I chose to be a nurse to help others. Being a male is irrelevant, from any point of view… resident, family, management, co-workers… a person centred approach to each individual service user and their unique needs is the priority. My gender doesn’t matter.’’ Matthew Watson, Nurse at Balhousie The Glens Care Home.
“I chose to be a Carer as I decided that a job in care might help with my confidence and people skills as well as me liking the idea of helping others. Being male in my field seemed scary at first but once I started I was welcomed and encouraged by all of the staff at my care home and all of the Senior Carers made sure to help me anytime I had an issue.” Stewart Duncan, Care Assistant at Balhousie Stormont Lodge Care Home.
“I chose to pursue a career in HR as I wanted to work in a challenging environment that suited my skills, experience and personality. I also thought it would be interesting to work directly with people in order to make a positive difference. The People Services department at Balhousie is mainly made up of woman and I think that is representative of the field as a whole. I enjoy working with people to make a difference to people’s lives and careers and that means working together across all demographics.” Jamie Stewart, People Development Co-ordinator at Balhousie Care Group.
“I enjoy my job as a senior carer, because if the elderly were not here we wouldn’t be here today. I enjoy caring for them. It’s like a way of saying thank you to them for having the life I have.
I actually find working with women better as you are equal, as working with men only, can be hard, as men often try to be more dominant than each other.” Shaun Morrison, Senior Care Assistant at Balhousie Care Group.
“I am surprised that I fell into care as I was an apprentice chef before. But I knew people that worked in care and I thought I would give it a try. I found it a very nice environment and rewarding environment to work in and I adapted well. I got the chance to be an Acting Senior as I was doing well in the role and I was told I was a nice person. It’s interesting being one of only a few men in the care home as I get relied upon to help do a bit heavy lifting now and then. It’s good for the residents to have both male and female carers also.” Ross Balmer, Acting Senior Care Assistant at Balhousie Care Group.
“I pursued a career in care as it was something that I always wanted to do. I really like caring for people and eventually I would like to go into nursing. I am currently doing training so that I can become a Senior Care Assistant and I have just completed an SVQ in Health & Social Care. I honestly do not see any difference working in a predominantly female environment. It’s all about caring for residents and I think they can equally good care from both male and female carers.” Callan Clawson, Care Assistant at Balhousie Care Group.
And an article by Jacqui Eccles from School of Nursing, Dundee University;
#MenDoCare : attracting Scotland’s boys and men to the caring professions
In honour of International Men’s Day
Nursing, midwifery and the caring professions have long struggled to redress the significant gender imbalance in the professions. Nationally, the gender split for recruits to nursing degree courses is 90% female and 10% male. In 2005, women made up 98% of preschool education and childcare staff in Scotland and men only 2% and only 12% of adult community care workers were male (Scottish Government 2007). How do we explain the stark gender disparity in the caring professions and what can we do about it?
It is well established that gender stereotyping begins early and are much more fixed when applied to men. It is more difficult for children to envisage a woman breaking out of a gender stereotype than it is for them to imagine a man as a nurse, home carer or classroom assistant (http://wild.psych.duke.edu/images/WilbournKee2010.pdf). There are clear indications that programmes to address the gender stereotyping of professions should start early and continue throughout a child’s education. If we do nothing, we are failing to tap in to a reservoir of talent and are denying Scotland’s men the chance at joining rewarding and secure professions.
Gender balance in the workplace has been shown to improve performance. It encourages different approaches and problem-solving techniques and can drive innovation (Wood 2013). It therefore benefits our most vulnerable populations, those who require care, to achieve a more equitable gender split in the caring professions.
At the University of Dundee, we believe that men do care. Working with organisations like Developing the Young Workforce, other higher education institutions (HEIs) and further education colleges, we are establishing interventions designed to begin to redress the gender imbalance in nurse recruitment. It is hoped that these strategies will feed in to other disciplines. Focus groups have been held to establish what helped and hindered our current male student entrants in their career choice – the results of these will help us to refine our recruitment policy to maximise the number of male applicants and will feed in to other initiatives. The School of Nursing and Health Sciences also hosts a multi-institution working party which is sharing information and ideas.
In September, an event for guidance teachers was held. A male nursing student, an admissions lecturer and a member of staff from the local further education college attended to promote nursing as a career option for a wider group of potential school-age applicants, including male students. A range of pathways such as ordinary, honours and master’s degree programmes make nursing a sound academic as well as professional choice. Our students tell us they all had strong role models (male and female) which made nursing a more attractive career choice for them and this phenomenon may be generalisable across the caring professions.
It is important to be visible in the community and the University of Dundee and Dundee and Angus College hosted a pop-up stall in Dundee’s Overgate shopping centre, staffed primarily by men who are nurses and nursing students to encourage the local community to consider nursing as a choice. The college presence was vital as many do not realise the various options such as access courses which can facilitate a university place. The hashtag #MenDoCare was used to create a social media presence to help with promoting the event and measuring its success.
In the early planning stages is a programme of events in partnership with Developing the Young Workforce for S2/S3 students at local secondary schools. Reaching children who have not yet had a chance to consider the ubiquitous nature of a career in caring is an important target and if successful, we hope this programme will lead to the development of a model which might be rolled out more widely.
Our young men already suffer from an achievement gap compared with their female peers. Opening their eyes to a variety of careers they may not have considered can only benefit them – encouraging more men in to roles such as pre-school education will provide role models for the very youngest boys. In marking International Men’s Day, we contend that men do, and can, care. In fact, they excel at it when given the chance and the encouragement. It is incumbent upon all of us to nurture and educate Scotland’s young males so they might choose to work as carers, nurses, midwives, pre-school educators or in any of the myriad of caring professions which have been dominated by females for so long.
Jacqueline Eccles is a Mental Health Nursing Lecturer at the University of Dundee.
#MenDoCare is led by Dr Heather Whitford with support from Dr Anna Gavine and Jacqueline Eccles at the University of Dundee’s School of Nursing and Health Sciences
More information about Nursing at UoD can be found at https://nursing-health.dundee.ac.uk/