You are on page 1of 1

Source: Journal of Advanced Nursing; Jun99, Vol.

29 Issue 6, p1393-1401, 9p Caring and nursing have been identified with women throughout modern history, a view reinforced by the continued low numbers of men in nursing. The feminine ethical system that forms the basis of nurse caring has foundations in the work of Chodorow, Noddings, Gilligan and other feminist theorists who describe essential differences in thinking between men and women. This gender-related viewpoint has strongly influenced scholarship on caring . Yet many models of nurse caring both expressive and instrumental elements, i.e. stereotypically feminine and masculine elements, respectively. Despite an apparent connection, there is a paucity of research relating gender to nurse caring. Although there is some empirical evidence that perceptions of nurse caring vary with gender for patients and for nurses , and that nurses, who are predominantly female, favour expressive caring behaviours, only one researcher has specifically addressed nurse gender and self-perceived nurse caring.

THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK Valentine'sIntegrated Caring Model and the gender theory of Chodorow were used as the study's framework. According to Valentine, caring is a complex set of core psychological elements, affective and cognitive in nature, put into purposeful action during interactions with clients. These interactions are social or physical in nature and focus on health, learning or physical comfort. Nurse caring is strongly influenced by philosophical beliefs, ethics, socialization processes and cultural norms. These variables have apparent connections to gender, which, it has been suggested, may influence caring perceptions and behaviours. Chodorow suggested that there are socially constructed differences between men and women in thinking, perception and self-concept. These differences reflect differences in gender identity, a phenomenon that arises out of sex labelling at birth and early identification with the mother for both sexes. As children mature, boys identify themselves as separate from the mother, whereas girls continue to identify with the mother. Men therefore develop personalities preoccupied with denial of relation and with a basic sense of separateness, whereas women develop relational personalities, with a basic sense of connectedness. To protect their identities as separate from women, men repress 'feminine' elements by avoiding behaviour associated with women and denying feelings identified as feminine.Women, with identities based on similarity, have less need to prove themselves. Thus, men have a more limited range of behaviour with which they feel comfortable than do women. Although manifested through the use of a wide range of behaviours, nurse caring has feminine connotations. Therefore, following Chodorow's logic, male nurses might avoid caring behaviours and attitudes both by incorporating fewer of them into their practice than do female nurses, and by denying the importance of these behaviours and attitudes to their practice. Male nurses might therefore be expected to score differently than female nurses on a self-measure of nurse caring and, for the same reasons, they might be scored differently than female nurses by patients.