Male nurses with ‘less qualifications’ are being promoted over women

Over half of nurses and midwives think men are favoured for promotion over their female colleagues.

Clare Bodell
11 June 2019
nurse on ward

Women alongside BAME staff are often under-represented at senior management and board level.

Over half of nurses and midwives believe men are favoured for promotion over their female colleagues, a report has revealed.


The ‘Investing in the Power of Nurse Leadership’ report, published last week by the Nursing Now campaign, investigates gender-related barriers in nursing and midwifery.

The report reveals that 52% of nurses and midwives believe the preferential treatment of men is a significant barrier to women obtaining leadership positions.

Respondents added that responsibilities at home often impacts women more than men.

It is well documented that women alongside black, Asian, and minority ethnic (BAME) staff are often under-represented at a board and senior management level.


‘Women’s work’.

The report calls abandonment the notion that nursing is a “soft science” or “women’s work”, allowing staff to gain promotion based on their ability rather than their gender.

Annette Kennedy, President of the International Council of Nurses, said; “The voices of the many nurses who contributed to [the Gender Report] must be heard by governments and health care leaders around the world.

“Nurses can be the answer to so many of the world’s health problems—but only if there are serious, sustained efforts to remove the obstacles that are routinely put in their way,”

“Give them a level playing field, remove the glass ceiling and abandon any notions of “women’s work” and nurses will change the world.”


Passed over for promotion.

The Royal College of Nursing says that women should not be passed over for promotion “in favour of male candidates with less qualifications”.

Wendy Irwin, Diversity and Equalities lead for the Royal College of Nursing, said: “Skill, talent and ability are equally distributed across the population, but equality of opportunity is not. For that reason, experiences cited in the report such as not being consulted about clinical decisions, being passed over for promotion in favour of male candidates with less qualifications, and constantly being told that nursing is a ‘nurturing’ and ‘female’ profession are all issues that members raise with us. The challenge is for employers to create and sustain fully inclusive workplaces which are environments in which all nurses are able to fulfil their potential.

“We need to deplore all forms of sexism and other exclusionary belief systems which are often embedded into nursing workplace cultures. A good barometer of change in this arena is when female nurses from a diverse range of backgrounds routinely take their place on Trust boards and in senior leadership posts”.

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