Attracting men to the profession – a step towards tackling an inequality

The nursing workforce should reflect the population it serves, but men are under-represented. Now there is a move to address this inequality

The proportion of men in nursing has been stuck at around 10% for years, and no one seems especially bothered. There is no outcry at this particular form of inequality, and there have been no national campaigns that reach out to potential male recruits.

However, one university has decided to intervene, thanks to funding from the National Express Foundation. From this autumn, ten male applicants to a course in nursing, midwifery or the allied health professions will receive £1,000 each towards their living expenses.

Coventry University is introducing the bursaries as part of its wider drive to encourage applications from groups that are under-represented. Women on science, technology, engineering and maths courses can benefit from a similar scheme.


The university believes the bursary is the first created for men taking nursing and healthcare courses in UK higher education.

Academic dean Rob James hopes the initiative will ‘lead the way in addressing the persistent low proportion of men working in many healthcare professions’.

Given that there will only be ten beneficiaries, that sounds ambitious, but it’s a start.

Such interventions seem overdue. The nursing workforce should reflect the population it serves, whether that be through ensuring ethnic diversity or gender balance.

Of course, the senior nursing workforce – where there are proportionately more white and male nurses in managerial posts – should do the same.