The robot-proof job men aren’t taking


When you imagine the “job of the future?” what comes to mind? Probably something like this. Or maybe this. These are the jobs expected to grow the most over the next decade. And if you look at expected growth and the annual salary there’s a clear winner … nursing. Other jobs might pay more but future demand is a fraction
of what it is for nurses. Thanks to an aging population, in the US
and around the world. Despite the good pay and the high demand, there’s one group that has stayed away from nursing: Men. Nursing is still one of the most gender-segregated jobs in the country with one man for every nine women in the field. So, what’s going on here? Why aren’t more men taking these well-paying,
in-demand jobs? With staff shortages plaguing many … … on our way to a nursing crisis … … in hospitals all over … … international shortage. In response to the worldwide nursing shortage scientists have enlisted the help of robots. These machines can lift and move patients take vital signs deliver medication and even make scheduling and assignment decisions. Nao robot: I recommend placing a new patient
in triage bed T5 but contrary to the doomsday headlines there’s little chance these machines will replace human nurses anytime soon. In 2013, researchers at Oxford University developed this scale. It measures how vulnerable certain jobs are to automation. The jobs where humans are least likely to be replaced by robots require either creativity,
expert perception and manipulation, or high degrees of social intelligence. Predictions are much worse for jobs where these skills are less important. Of the 700+ jobs in the Oxford study, nursing was one of the least vulnerable. With a less than 1% chance of becoming automated in the
next decade or two. And when you watch nurses in action, it’s easy to see why. The ability to build trust … to connect … it’s what makes nursing immune from automation. And for decades, it’s also what’s kept
men out of the profession. Bill Lecher: Every time that there’s a joke about a man that’s a nurse … “Remember, we talked about him?” (laughter) “So, nurse not a doctor huh?” “Kinda girly, isn’t it?”
(laughter) It still cuts a small little cut. It still hurts a little bit. You always feel it. Scheltens: This idea, that nursing is a “woman’s job” it can be traced back to the 1850s. To an English nurse named Florence Nightingale. She cared for sick and injured soldiers during
the Crimean War. When she arrived at the hospital Nightingale was disgusted by the squalid conditions. Though she faced resistance from the male physicians, she imposed strict sanitation and dietary guidelines. And under her watch, fewer patients died of
preventable diseases. After the war, her methods were taught in new nursing schools that opened up
all over the world. At the same time that women were being told
their place was in the home nursing gave them the chance to develop an
identity outside of it. But Nightingale was no feminist. She saw nursing as a natural extension of
what it meant to be a woman. According to Nightingale, women had a
natural capacity for caring. Men did not. They couldn’t attend Nightingale’s nursing
schools, which blocked them from the profession. But the thing is, before Nightingale’s reforms men had a long history as nurses. Monks cared for the poor and sick across Europe for centuries starting in the Middle Ages. Men served as nurses during the American Civil War. This includes the poet Walt Whitman who described the experience in his poem
“The Wound Dresser.” (male voice reading) Fifty years after Whitman wrote this poem the Army Nurse Corps was made up entirely of women. By the time men were legally allowed to rejoin the profession in the 1950s nursing had become synonymous with femininity. A link that was reinforced through advertising, mass media, and popular culture. And which in turn affected how we raised our children. They absorbed the idea that men and women were born with certain personality traits which made them better-suited to certain jobs. And while these traits were thought to be innate we now know that they’re largely a
product of our environment. Marci Cottingham: Boys and girls are socialized
differently, especially when it comes to emotions. And the emotions that they’re allowed to express. Boys who are even in the infant age who cry are more likely to be shushed or told not to cry. Scheltens: Mothers are more likely to smile at their
infant daughters than their sons … and they use fewer emotion words around preschool
aged boys than girls. Cottingham: Boys are socialized to
stoically manage those emotions so as not to appear effeminate or de-masculinized. The biggest threat you can pose
to a boy in terms of masculinity is to call him a girl, or call him a pussy or a wuss, right? Scheltens: So a job that requires making an emotional connection, that requires expressing empathy – a job like nursing – there’s this assumption that men can’t do it because they lack these inborn “feminine” traits. Lecher: As a parent I was always pretty
involved with my children so when her teacher introduced me as, “This is Mr. Lecher, this
is Katie’s dad, and he’s a nurse and works at Children’s Hospital here in Cincinnati. And I was surprised by the response. Young children, five years old, said,
“Well you can’t be a nurse. because you’re not Katie’s mom.” What kind of messages do you remember getting as a kid about nursing? And who becomes a nurse? Chunn: Like the little white hats? And the skirt I think that as a child you’d always have this kind of like feeling that nurses were nurturing and people don’t think men can be that way. You just have to tackle some of those preconceptions like “He’s a man so he can’t be gentle.” or “he can’t be nurturing.” Josiah Shoon: I feel like it’s the
twenty-first effing century, How is this conversation still happening? Tim Malinowski: “Oh you must be my doctor.”
And they start asking me questions. Sammy Davis LPN: “Why didn’t you become a doctor or anything?” Jason Rozinka: “Did you fail med school, is that why you’re a nurse?” Scheltens: It’s not just nursing. Genetic counselors, physical therapists,
and physician assistants also have large gender imbalances despite their higher than average salaries and major projected demand. Meanwhile, the economy is shedding the kinds of jobs that have stereotypically been associated with men, like manufacturing. And that’s reflected in this statistic: The labor force participation rate: that’s the share of men in the US who are either working or looking for work. And it’s been falling pretty steadily since 1954. Our long-held beliefs about gender are clashing with a new economic reality, one in which emotional intelligence is vital. In recent years, there’s been a bunch of ad campaigns aimed at bringing more men into nursing. When sociologist Marci Cottingham
looked at these ads, she noticed that a lot of them relied on the same gender stereotypes that kept men out of nursing. Cottingham: Extreme stoicism, masking emotion, emphasis on athleticism. Looking rather stern. Looking past the camera so they’re not
making direct eye contact Tattoos, motorcycles, don’t really
have a lot to do with what’s required of you as a nurse. If we use these stereotypical
images we might attract the wrong type of men into nursing. This idea that, “I can still be a macho tough guy, I don’t need to deal with all that nurturing
empathy stuff.” And so I think there’s really a question here of who’s going to change? Is it going to be the nursing profession,
to try to attract more men, or should we expect men to change? Guy Beck: I think it takes a while to solve that identity crisis. How can I be a man, a nurse, and still maintain my manliness? But now I sort of have this view that caring is probably the most masculine thing a guy can do. Scheltens: Caring, empathy,
and trust are humans’ strategic advantages over robots. And those skills don’t belong to one gender. They’re like a muscle. The more we build that muscle, The better prepared we’ll be for
whatever the future holds.