News in Nursing

Gender Discrimination Prominent in the Health Sector

Gender Discrimination Prominent in the Health Sector

Gender discrimination is a social issue that occurs in almost all sectors of the labor force, but, could be more pronounced in some sectors over others. One of such cases is in the health sector. Generally, the health sector comprises jobs and services ranging from management to medical professionals and workers in the administrative section.

A good number of professionals may not experience any form of gender discrimination in their workplace. Some may not have a sense or knowledge of it even when it occurs, possibly in their favor. Other professionals, though, will have a strong sense of gender discrimination, which may show up during the process of hiring, recruitment, or during the period of their career especially when at the center of the act.

The term discrimination simply encompasses everything involving treating a person or group of people differently from other people or groups of people. Discrimination occurs in many forms. Gender-based discrimination refers to a bias towards a particular gender. In most cases, the female gender bears the brunt of gender inequality and discrimination. Women are not allowed to obtain or enjoy equal rights and opportunities as the men (though they may be as educationally qualified as they), and the discrimination starts right from the hiring process and extends to the work environment. Advancement in career is also impeded when compared to the advancement in career for men. The story is not different in the case of meting out disciplinary actions.

A woman may be more severely punished for an offense compared to that meted out to a male for the same offense. To crown it all, women and men may perform the same jobs, but the women may receive lesser rewards and benefits as compared to that received by the men. In most advanced countries such as Great Britain, the paycheck of a woman is just seventy to eighty percent of that of a man. This figure is lower in third world countries.

Why is Gender Discrimination Existent?

There are so many reasons abound as to why gender discrimination exists in the health sector. Outlining these reasons may be akin to writing a novel. At a very root basis, gender discrimination happens when culture in a society is shaped to favor men or women as competent for certain roles. Member of either gender can do as they wish; it would be considered the norm and no questions would be asked. Expectations of men and women are shaped by the culture and their fitting into career roles is similarly guided by culture.

Take for instance, in some workplaces, dirty jobs such as taking care of a patient’s hygiene, personal care etc. are seen as women’s work while managerial positions and business-oriented positions are seen as men’s work. Though there are variations among countries of the world, the general belief is that men are more suited to chief-like positions in the workplace, while the women are less capable of occupying such positions because it is “perceived” that they lack the capacity to make decisions.

Men and Women in Healthcare Careers

In the health sector, strong preference is shown to the men. This is obvious as men occupy the more influential positions and higher-paying job roles. The women on the other hand are made to perform the less-paying tasks. Careers in primary care such as physicians as well as others such as business management are strongly biased towards men. As a matter of fact, it is quite unfortunate that many women prefer a female gynecologist to a male.

One of the reasons suggested for this disparity is that males tend to be more inclined to and favored in the sciences, which implies that gender discrimination at school-age level can set the stage for biased choices in a future healthcare career, most especially those in primary care. There are some exceptions to certain roles in the healthcare where women are seen as most suitable. Take nursing for instance; advertisement for this role is highly slanted to recruit women. Other roles such as hospital cleaning and community care workers are also seen as roles for the female gender.

Secretarial and administrative roles are also angled sharply towards females. On the other hand, in cases where women are opportune to perform higher paying roles in the health sector, they are then faced with barriers to advancement in career. For example, in roles such as lead scientist, men are considered more suitable and superior to women because women are wrongly assumed to be inferior and less academically qualified than men.

Gender equality in the health sector

Though gender discrimination still occur today, it is most people’s wish that gender equality will be achieved in every work sector, including healthcare. When achieved, gender equality will allow both genders to enjoy equal and full rights in their workplace, the ability to exercise these rights will also be allowed, with neither gender being preferred to the other. The key challenge today is to obtain this goal. Some workplaces however have standards and measures put in place for hiring workers and most workplaces have disciplinary measures and Genuine interest and focus on career is instrumental to achieving set career goals: when subjected to any form of gender discrimination, victims are advised to speak out to a legal counsel, who can then give the right advice on how to address the problem. It should be noted though that no matter what gender a person belongs to, he or she deserves equal treatment. Their success in their career should depend on their skills, education and personal attributes, not their gender.

Gender-bias discipline

The way a supervisor handles disciplinary actions in the workplace would go a long way to tarnish or make good his career. The workplace isn’t a school, so “punishment” is not the best way to describe corrective action. The main aim of disciplinary measures in the workplace should be to help employees attain higher levels of performance or to eliminate mediocrity and other behaviors that impede progress, disrupt the work environment or reduce productivity. There is need for some form of employee coaching in every workplace. Tools such as performance appraisals and evaluations should be present and effectively used, but there must be fairness about using them.

Disciplinary actions in workplace should not be biased; it should not be based on disability, national origin, sex or religion. Supervisors with biased opinions are abusing their authority to administer or to not administer disciplinary action based on personal relationship or biased perceptions of employees who report to them.

Bottom line

Conclusively, the effects of gender disparity in the health sector can be quite dampening to the morale of most employees that have been a subject of gender discrimination. Several ethics committee should be put in place to evaluate decisions that appear biased in order to resonate justice and equity. Equal rights for promotion, salary increments and professional advancements should be afforded to both parties in order to ensure a fair chances of progress and encourage healthy competition between workplace colleagues, superiors and overseers.