Men Who Stop Caring: The Exit of Men from Caring Occupations
AbstractIn recent years, initiatives have been taken to attract more men into caring occupations. However, there has been much less focus on retaining these new male workers. This article builds on qualitative interviews with 11 Danish men who after working in the caring sector decided to leave for other occupations. A factor often presented as influential for the men’s exit concerns the social working environment. In the interviews, the men discuss the pressure to assimilate to the existing and established female-dominated culture. They feel excluded and socially isolated. Several of them have been directly criticized or disqualified as not being “real” men by their female colleagues. As a result of a growing bureaucratic demand for control and registration of work procedures, several men feel that they do not have adequate resources and time to provide the level of care that is needed. They become disillusioned and frustrated and choose to seek employment elsewhere. Some men cannot come to terms with close physical contact and “smells,” for example, changing diapers on infants or bathing old people. They cannot handle the thought of having their intentions misinterpreted, for example, when playing and being physical with children, and being potentially seen as sexually abhorrent. Finally, some men never intended to remain permanently in caring occupations. Their exit is driven by an ambition to pursue a career in another field or at what they view as a more challenging career level.
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