Is There a Hospital Gender Gap?

Hospital Gender Gap

No matter how much we like to think that we’ve come leaps and bounds when it comes to the sexes in a professional capacity, the health care field is one that sees a very big gap between the jobs held by men and those held by women. Ask any male nurse or female orthopedic surgeon; people are still very much surprised when health care professionals don’t fit into the standard stereotype.

Male and Female Trends

According to a report put out by the British Medical Journal, many of the top female-dominated and male-dominated positions forty years ago are the same today. For example, men in 1971 were found more often in the careers of: surgeons, EMTs, dentists, general practitioners, and obstetricians. While many of these have leveled out (particularly dentists, general practitioners, and obstetricians), an equal number remain primarily male-based.

At the same time, women in 1971 were most often found in careers related to dental hygiene, midwifery, public health nursing, occupational therapy, nursing, and nurse assisting. Today, women are still found to be overwhelmingly predominant in these positions—almost to the point where a male in the profession is still something of an oddity. Although this same study didn’t address such career fields as medical billing and coding or medical office administration, these are also positions filled by a large majority of female professionals.

What the Gender Gap Means

There are no hard-and-fast rules when it comes to men and women in the health care field. While it appears as though women are taking over the male-dominated roles to provide equal opportunities, men are still very underrepresented in nursing, administration, and many therapy-based careers. This isn’t to say that men aren’t welcome at health care schools or in the jobs themselves; in fact, many experts believe that it has more to do with social perception influencing the career choices men and women make for themselves. For example, men may feel pressured to seek more advanced, scientific degrees, while women often prefer jobs with more stable hours and greater flexibility for childcare purposes.

The truth, though, is that all health care career options are open to anyone—as long as you have the time, drive, and dedication to complete your education. Although you may have to deal with the occasional biased employer, patient, or even your support network, the satisfaction of working and succeeding in this field can make it all worth it. After all, considerations of the “glass ceiling” and other discriminatory acts can and will exist, but these are not unique to the health care field.


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