A discourse of caring: A case study of male nurses’ discourse and identity construction in the United Kingdom and New Zealand
Despite aims for gender equality in the workplace, certain occupations continue to be categorized as suitable for one gender or another. This entrenched division of labour is arguably linked to traditional gender roles and relies on the stereotypical skills and characteristics that men and women are assumed to possess. But what happens when women and men enter what are seen to be ‘non-traditional’ work roles, specifically male workers in the arguably feminine ‘caring’ industry of nursing? Caring is not readily seen as part of hegemonic masculine characteristics in many Western cultures. The match of a gendered profession to gendered behaviour therefore deserves further investigation. Using workplace discourse collected from male nurses in the United Kingdom and New Zealand, this chapter examines male carers’ linguistic behaviour and the relationship between gender, profession, and workplace culture, proposing a discourse of caring. It challenges societal stereotypes about gendered professions and argues for a more nuanced understanding of the enactment of professional identity in gendered contexts.