04/30/2014 Jonathan Taylor

UCAS chief Mary Cook steps up to address the lack of men in nursing and teaching

This article from Times Higher Education yields more evidence that men’s issues have reached the ears of upper-level education officials in Britain (see this earlier AVFMS article for more examples of this phenomenon). The Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) is an organization which British students must go through when applying for admission into higher education. Its chief executive, Mary Curnock Cook, had some bold words for university administrators earlier this month:

Men should be encouraged into female-dominated subjects such as nursing, teaching and social work, just as science and engineering is promoted to women, the head of UCAS has argued. Mary Curnock Cook pointed out that although women were outnumbered in subjects such as computer science, the gender discrepancy was actually greater in nursing, for example.

‘We hear all these things about [getting] more women into science, and women doing physics, and computers and so on,’ she told the annual conference of the Association of University Administrators in Manchester on 15 April. But she asked: ‘Why don’t we hear more about getting men into nursing and education and social work where, after all, there’s a very ready supply of a very large volume of jobs?’

Indeed. Nursing, despite being a profession full of drama and stress, is still a rather solid field in terms of job security and pay. Simply put, the sick and terminally ill are always going to be present in society. And we will always need medical professionals of all kinds to tend to them.

The article provides us with this graph, courtesy of UCAS, which shows that while women are indeed underrepresented in STEM fields (Science/Technology/Engineering/Math), the ratio favoring women in nursing is several times the ratio favoring men in STEM:


The article continues:

In all types of engineering, it would take just over 15,000 extra female students to balance out the current male dominance of the subject, she said. But in subjects allied to medicine, which includes nursing, the number of extra men needed was close to 30,000.

Yet action over gender imbalances at university was [only] “about women who are disadvantaged compared with men”, she said. “Why wouldn’t you set out to make it more socially acceptable for young men to go into nursing and teaching?” she asked.

Yes, that’s a very good question. And it speaks to the perversion of the modern “diversity” movement. You see, moving women into areas where men are overrepresented sounds fine – so long as you’re making room for men to move into areas where women are overrepresented as well. And so long as you are being encouraging toward both sexes during this transition, rather than just encouraging one sex and looking down upon the other.

But if all you’re doing is kicking one group out, providing them nowhere to go, and essentially telling them to go die in an alley somewhere, ethical questions begin to emerge. For one thing, is this truly a model premised upon the values of diversity? Or is it instead representative of selective diversity? And if it’s selective diversity, is it really diversity to begin with? Are values really values if we only apply them when they work in our favor, or only in the favor of people we care about?

Also, there questions of practicality. One might wonder how such a model would be sustainable over the long term. One might also wonder how it would help men empathize with and support “empowered women” when such women so often see equality as a one-way street that should always work in their favor. And such a model probably doesn’t work wonders for the economy, or women who desire economically stable partners, either.

No, far from being progressive and equitable, it’s really quite petty, vindictive, and asinine when you think about it. But that’s how a lot of people (in academia especially) see the world. To them, that’s “social justice.”

By the way, in case you’re new or haven’t seen me explain this before, I use words like “diversity” and “social justice” in scare quotes not because I disagree with the terms (let alone those values). On the contrary, I very much support them – on those occasions when I observe them in their true form.

No, I use scare quotes to emphasize my disagreement with how a generation of pretenders have perverted those values into their polar opposites while at the same time still claiming moral and institutional authority over those who have not. People like Mary Cook are the ones advocating true diversity (notice I didn’t use scare quotes there). And although she is speaking the truth, the likelihood is rather high that she is not speaking to the choir.

She continues:

“Maybe some of the issues we’ve got with male education would be improved by having more male primary and secondary teachers,” Ms Curnock Cook said. She added that boys being taught English literature in classes with a majority of girls and by female teachers “doesn’t always make for young men who love English literature”. “I don’t see anything happening in education policy to tackle this issue,” she said.

Yes, yes, and more yeses. Ms. Cook is bravely spearheading a conversation that should have taken place decades ago.

It’s time to shake off this nonsense idea that equality is a one way street, and the politics of two wrongs make a right. If you think the proper path to educational equity involves ignoring half the human race, you really don’t belong in education. Too many people in academia do, however. That’s why someone needs to get in there and shake things up.

And it appears Mary Cook is doing just that.

Thank you, Ms. Cook.

Jonathan Taylor
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Jonathan Taylor

Jonathan is Title IX For All's founder, editor, web designer, and database developer. Hailing from Texas, he makes a mean red beans n' rice and is always interested to learn new things.
Jonathan Taylor
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About the Author

Jonathan Taylor Jonathan is Title IX For All's founder, editor, web designer, and database developer. Hailing from Texas, he makes a mean red beans n' rice and is always interested to learn new things.

Comments (11)

  1. Excellent article I made this point the other day, other areas like HR and Recruitment are also departments that are usually dominated by women.

  2. Err, how about we promote ALL the male dominated fields to women, such a rubbish collectors and sewage workers. Again, its just the high paying jobs women are interested in.

  3. Malcolm James

    It is of course to be welcome that Mary Cook is prepared to publicly acknowledge the problem, but it is another matter to translate fine words into action. As I have said in previous comments, the root cause is low pay. Nursing may be economically stable, but it is also relatively poorly paid and is probably going to be no more than a second salary in most households. It has been possible to drive down pay in these types of jobs partly because enough women have ben prepared to do satisfying jobs at a lower salary than men would be prepared to accept, safe in the knowledge that they can still find a man to be the main breadwinner. Men (or boys, since a lot of these messages are transmitted in their teens) pick up the message that their chances of attracting a mate are directly related to the amount they earn and those with the ability to select higher earning jobs, such as accounting or IT, will tend to play the percentages by doing so. It would be interesting to do a scientific survey of couples where the woman is the higher earner to see when they got together, since there is evidence that people think about dating in a different way in their teens and early 20s and such couples may disproportionately be those who met at that sort of age.

    It has been commented on in other situations that men’s actions tend to be motivated by gaining female approval and someone (possibly Glenn Sacks) wrote that the number of conscietnious objectors to army service in Israel rose significantly when social attitudes changed so that objectors could get a girlfriend.

    • I donno, I have a relative who is a nurse and she makes 70k a year. That’s not bad. Definitely better than a lot of construction pay for non-masters workers. I’m not sure how far off nursing wages are in Britain compared to the US, though.

      Good point about men feeling pressured to go into certain jobs because they are worried about their ability to attract a mate.

      • Malcolm James

        $70k is about £45k here in the UK. I don’t think nurses who stay on the ward, as opposed to going into management, make that much over here. This is a pretty good salary if you live in areas with a low cost of living (say mid Wales or part of Northern England), but not if you live in the South-east. Also, a lot of men who go into areas such as teaching tend to end up in management, since the money is better, but women have a greater tendency to want to stay in the classroom or on the ward, because satisfaction is greater and it is what drew them into the profession in the first place.

      • Malcolm James

        I have also just remember a survey carried out in the UK which found that the proportion of male teachers was negatively correlated with house prices (used as a proxy for general cost of living), i.e. where it is easier to live on a teacher’s salary, more men are attracted into teaching.

      • Malcolm James

        I am a member of UCU (the university and college lecturers’ union in the UK), which has been engaged in a pay dispute this last academic year. Over the last few years lecturers’ pay has fallen by about 13% in real terms whilst senior management have been awarding themselves large increases ‘because they’re worth it’.

        We have national pay bargaining still in the UK and the employers’ organisation has become increasingly hawkish and we have held three 1-day strikes this year and were about to start a marking boycott (which would really put the wind up employers because students wouldn’t graduate this Summer). Over Easter the employer’s promised a slightly improved offer for 2014/15, i.e. next year, but nothing more this year. This was put to the members informally in a consultative e-ballot and on a 55% turn-out the vote was roughly 5 to 1 in favour of accepting. The lecturing profession, as elsewhere, become more feminised over the last 10-15 years and clearly a majority of this magnitude cannot simply be blamed on this, but a former colleague of mine (now retired and not known for his political correctness) once said to me ‘the union is useless – too many women in it. It’s just a second salary for them so they don’t want to rock the boat’. This can become a vicious circle. If the union members won’t fight for better pay, the employers will in the current climate take advantage and the profession becomes less attractive to men.

        As part of the industrial dispute I was on a rally in the Autumn and I and my colleagues got talking to someone who was doing a PhD on the folk history of trade union marches. He made the observation that even in trades and professions where the gender split of the workforce is pretty even you predominantly find men on these marches. This is another example of a phenomenon I find quite often; people don’t join up the dots when presented with evidence which contradicts feminist orthodoxy, but simply express surprise and treat the findings as an anomaly.

  4. I considered nursing and then I remembered the way women compete against men in the workplace.

    Some men may sexual harass a woman, but at least she can complain and get some relief.

    However, if I go into a female dominated field and they make accusations about me there is no defense for me. I will not only be fired but I may find it difficult to get another job in that field. That’s a huge financial investment to work in a field where I will be fearful of my every word, look, and action being declared creepy or sexist. And since “creepy” or “harassing” is allowed to be defined solely by the “victim” there really is no way of knowing what will set some female bigot off.

    I have 2 bachelors, but I’ll stick to truck driving. The only women I meet on this job are people who work too hard to worry about being petty c#nts.

    • True enough, and a very good point. Women who enter into a male-dominated field have to worry about losing job prospects if they become pregnant. Men have to worry about being falsely branded sexual predators, being railroaded out, and totally losing their future job prospects.

  5. Roy

    Nevertheless she is using a feminist/liberal approach to a invented problem of a lack of men in nursing.The real problem of why men are choosing not to go to college has nothing to do with a lack of opportunities to be nurses or teachers. Feminists believe the answers is quotas and eventually not just encouraging but forcing and requiring men and women to abandon gender roles, which they are insist are only social constructs. But there are no real barriers to males entering nursing programs(at least not at my state university which has one of the nation’s a largest nursing programs) The men that choose to major in nursing are welcome and treated fairly.. nor do they face discrimination in employment. This is a smoke in mirrors campaign lead by a feminist, don’t be deceived. If we want more men to go to college, we need universities that are willing to make more male spaces (male centers and male scholarships) in fields that men prefer and CHOOSE to study.

    • “But there are no real barriers to males entering nursing programs”

      I hear you. I’m interested to read your response to Jean Valjean’s comment above.


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