Being A Feminist In A "Woman's Field"

By Shana McLaughlin

Women today are continuing to push boundaries, filling traditionally male dominated fields and creating a presence in places where the surface was just barely scratched before. These women are continuously praised for their courage and strength, as they should be. As a student preparing to enter a traditionally female dominated work field, however, it is a little intimidating to say the least.

The promotion of women on this campus alone is something to be recognized and praised. Never before have I been surrounded by women my age so determined and inspired to achieve their goals in male dominated fields like business and politics. I am continuously proud of my peers for their dedication. It does, however, feel as though entering a career in nursing is considered less of an admirable, impressive pursuit. Yes, I am adopting an occupation that is 91.7% women, and yes most of my classes have only one or two boys on the attendance list. I am becoming aware of how easy it is to fall victim to the belief that because I am entering into a “type” field and settling into a “women’s job,” I can’t have as much of a say in a feminist discussion or have as strong of an opinion on the promotion of women in the workforce.

However, as I spend more time on this campus, I am finding how limited I am in this belief, and how I am essentially giving up on my strength and power as a accomplished women because I feel the pressure of gender roles and stereotypes in the workforce. If there is one thing beyond the technical skills and the memorized physiology I have found within my nursing education, it is how empowering it is to be surrounded by other women who are dedicating their education, lives, and power to becoming someone who make a difference in the lives of people who need the most help and support. Collectively, I believe we are learning together that we can push boundaries within our own profession and be advocates for women by making a difference in the lives of the people we come across, regardless of the traditional gender makeup of our field.

A nurse has the opportunity to teach and become a leader within the hospital and the community, and the chance to be a woman promoting health and strength. Yes, a nurse, teacher, or secretary may not be entering into the most challenging workforce in terms of historic gender balance, but this doesn’t mean that they don’t have the opportunity or capability to speak on or contribute to the promotion of women. In fact, the boundaries nurses are pushing may not be the most obvious to the naked eye, but uniquely are conquered nonetheless.