A nurse practitioner on the job at the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center.University of New Mexico, Flickr CC.

Pushes and Pulls for Professional Women

Gender divides in the types of work men and women often do contribute to inequality in earnings, yet women face continued difficulty entering predominantly men’s jobs. Now, in Gender & Society, Latonya Trotter finds that it’s not just exclusion from men’s professions, but the inclusionary policies of women’s professions that maintain distinctly gendered fields.

To understand how gendered organizations develop institutional norms that cater to women, Trotter turned to the case of nurse practitioners. The ethnographer interviewed nurse practitioners and observed classes and events that were part of their profressional advancement. She identified a number of practices in the profession that attract women.

Within the hierarchy of nursing, nurse practitioners are high status, high earning, and highly trained, and this profession has become a desirable alternative for women interested in medicine, but who choose not to commit to the longer training (and hours) of medical school, want children, and appreciate the autonomy and flexibility of a nursing career. These women can work part-time and take a long time to finish their schooling; there are no career penalties for taking time off, and seniority is not highly rewarded in the profession.

The flexibility of the nursing profession must be understood in conjunction with the inflexibility of other occupations and workplaces; that flexibility also means female nurse practitioners can have good careers while still prioritizing men’s professional paths. When only some occupations offer that possibility, it’s little wonder they prove particularly attractive to female professionals.

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February 21, 2018

Many women are working full time, running a household, caring for their children and trying to fit in some leisure time. These women are from all different backgrounds, cultures and ethnicities. They work in different industries and professions including entrepreneurs, doctors, lawyers, contractors, educators, employees and employers. Some may have established careers while others are still working toward their career goals. What we all have in common is our sister-hood of striving to do it all while finding balance in our day to day lives. We want to lead by example to inspire and empower future generations.

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