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Why part-time nurses should be valued

27 February 2020
Volume 29 · Issue 4

The recent Royal College of Nursing (RCN) report titled Gender and Nursing as a Profession: Valuing nurses and paying them their worth (Clayton-Hathway et al, 2020) argues that nurses are undervalued, reflected in their conditions and pay, because of gender stereotypes. Unfortunately, this research does not fully engage with the real issues that women in nursing are faced with, particularly family responsibilities, the impact of part-time working and culture.

However, it is clear that family responsibilities, particularly motherhood, define a woman's career progression, particularly in nursing. There is a complex process relating to the age of the dependent children, a woman's working hours and any successive career breaks. The degree of a woman's career progression is directly related to the school age of the dependent children: the younger the child the greater the detrimental impact (McIntosh et al, 2015a).

Moreover, women who take a career break of more than 2 years often see their career path become more restricted. Research confirms that, while gender has a relatively positive effect on male career progression, a woman's career progression is reduced incrementally when she has more children; in taking a career break we see the most substantive and the most perceived loss of skills (McIntosh et al, 2012).

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