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Wednesday, August 5, 1998 Published at 23:01 GMT 00:01 UK


Male nurses overtake females on career ladder

Male nurses go futher than women despite being less qualified

Men are climbing the nursing career ladder faster than women, despite having fewer nursing qualifications and less experience in the field, according to a report by the Policy Studies Institute.

The report, Gender Inequalities in Nursing Careers, is based on the largest-ever survey of nurses in England and Wales and shows that, despite only making up 7% of the workforce, men are more likely to be promoted than women.

In the higher grades, they are twice as likely to be promoted as women.

The report says this is despite the fact that women tend to have better nursing qualifications than men and were just as committed to a career in the field as their male counterparts.

Dead-end specialisms

Women were also more likely to get stuck in specialisms, such as community nursing, where they was little chance of promotion because they were more family friendly.

[ image: Women nurses are less likely to expect quick promotion than men]
Women nurses are less likely to expect quick promotion than men
Men were more likely to be found in the mental health and disability fields.

Women had a much greater tendency to take career breaks to concentrate on the family than their male colleagues and 45% worked part-time, compared with just 5% of men.

The survey showed that parents of both sexes felt childcare facilities offered by the NHS were unsatisfactory.

And women felt more restricted than men in their ability to ask for paid time off to go on training courses or get fees for courses paid.

More unqualified men than women said they had been encouraged to take up further training and found it easier to get course fees paid.

Career breaks

The main reasons why women faced greater barriers to progress in their careers were the fact they were more likely to take career breaks, the lack of 'family-friendly' nursing specialisms and their need to do more part-time work because of family commitments.

However, the report did not rule out direct discrimination.

The report's authors, Louise Finlayson and James Nazroo, said incidental findings, such as that women were less likely to believe they would be promoted in the near future than men, suggested evidence of direct discrimination.


The report called for the NHS to take a more positive attitude towards career breaks, provide more opportunities for part-time work in senior posts, ensure that career progression was possible in all nursing specialisms and improve childcare facilities.

Louise Finlayson said: "The report suggests that the problem of gender inequalities in nursing careers is more fundamental than shattering the 'glass ceiling'. Disadvantage for women is present at relatively junior positions and becomes greater as seniority increases."

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