Why unemployed men may balk at nursing jobs: 6 insights into today's pink collar phenomenon

Health aide positions make up many of the fastest growing jobs, but this isn't necessarily a go-to field for the 9 million American men between ages of 25 and 54 who are not working.

Here are six insights from a recent New York Times' report on the disparity between American jobs on the decline and those on the rise, and how attitudes of masculinity may hinder men from taking on the latter.

1. Between 2014 and 2024, healthcare job growth is expected to ramp up, especially for occupational therapist assistants (43 percent job growth), physical therapist assistants (41 percent), home health aides (38 percent) and nurse practitioners (35 percent).

2. But these jobs involve different pay, gender ratios and descriptions than the jobs on the greatest rate of decline in the U.S., such as machine operators, metal casters and motor vehicle repair professionals. Research has found men who hold 'pink-collar jobs' as caregivers in healthcare see more job security and wage growth than they did in blue-collar work, but that's paired with less pay and stigmatization.

3. Health aides earn a median hourly wage of $10.50. For men accustomed to making $18 or more operating machinery or producing goods, the pay discrepancy is one major contributor to their hesitation to take on jobs in healthcare.

4. All of the jobs listed in point No. 1 that are slated for the most growth by 2024 are predominantly held by women: occupational therapist assistants (85 percent women), physical therapist assistants (68 percent women), home health aides (89 percent women), and nurse practitioners (91 percent women). This perpetuates public perception that caregiving is "women's work."

5. Experts who study the job market say the American culture of masculinity and notion of 'pink collar' jobs is another barrier for men making the transition from manufacturing to healthcare. "We have a cultural lag where our views of masculinity have not caught up to the change in the job market," Andrew Cherlin, PhD, a sociologist and public policy professor at Johns Hopkins, told The New York Times.

6. Some healthcare organizations are trying to frame jobs in caregiving as manly. For example, American Assembly for Men in Nursing designed a recruitment poster that compared the "adrenaline rush" of being an operating room nurse to mountain climbing.

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