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Four out of five children think nursing is a job for women

Nursing gender stereotypes prevalent among seven to 11 year olds, study finds

Nursing is still viewed as a female profession among schoolchildren, a study has found.

Researchers asked more than 100 seven to 11 year olds to draw a nurse, builder, lawyer and banker. Of the 112 participants, 91 children (81%) saw nursing as a profession largely skewed towards females. In contrast, of the 81 children who submitted pictures of lawyers, 53 children (65%) regarded it as a profession for males, making it the most gender balanced of the four professions.

The researchers from global recruitment company PageGroup found that where gender was identifiable, the results highlighted clear trends in regards to specific job roles. The study used common markers such as long hair and skirts for women and short hair and trousers for men.  

PageGroup executive board director for the UK & North America Oliver Watson, said that the drawings are a ‘worrying indication that children are still associating certain job roles with specific genders. This early-age stereotyping will likely impact the roles and positions they look at as adults’. 

The recruitment company’s education and employers campaigns and communication manager Carol Glover, added: 'There is a clear call-to-action for schools and businesses to help break down gender preconceptions and ensure our future workforce is diverse.'

The research comes after data obtained by Nursing Standard from the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) this month revealed that male students accounted for just 16,440 of the total 174,910 nursing student places over the past seven years.

Commenting on the UCAS figures, RCN head of policy Howard Catton said the proportion of men entering nursing has stagnated in part because ingrained stereotypes about the role still exist.

To view a selection of the children’s drawings,click here

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