“Dude, You Need to Get into Nursing”: Mobilizing Masculinities as Recruitment Strategy

Description: Dissertation Research; interviews and text analysis

Researcher: Marci D Cottingham

Despite broader changes in the health care industry and gender dynamics in the U.S., men continue to be a minority in the traditionally female occupation of nursing. As a caring profession, nursing emphasizes empathy, emotional engagement, and helping others—behaviors and skills characterized as antithetical to hegemonic notions of a tough, detached, and independent masculine self. The current study examines how the nursing profession reconciles the contradictions between hegemonic masculinity and caring for others in their effort to recruit men. Analyzing recruitment materials, I assess the mobilization and construction of masculinities in the context of textual, spoken, and visual content produced by professional nursing organizations. Results reveal how the profession mobilizes aspects of hegemonic and non-hegemonic masculinity, while using three distinct types of recruitment strategy: full hegemonic co-option, partial hegemonic co-option, and alternative construction of masculinities. The study’s findings advance our understanding of mobilizing masculinities as a gendering practice at the organizational level and the ongoing contradictions endemic to men’s entry into caring professions.