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Journal of Nursing Research and Practice

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Nursing students’ career expectations: Gender differences and supply side explanations

Author(s): Bente Abrahamsen* and Aagoth E. L. Storvik

This article investigates the gender differences in nursing students’ expectations of hierarchical careers. Due to the relative weak representation of female nurses in management and senior nursing positions, it is important to understand how supply side mechanisms produce gender differences in nurses’ career progressions. A quantitative study of 360 undergraduate nursing students was carried out. The questionnaire was distributed in 2015 to all undergraduate nursing students in their final study semester at three universities in Norway (N=360). Data were analysed by linear regression analyses (OLS). The findings show that female nursing students have lower expectations of attaining a management position compared to their male peers, but equal expectations of achieving a master’s degree. This gender difference still pertains, even when controlling for ambitions, family situation and self-assertiveness. The results support the assumption of perceived gender discrimination as a relevant explanation for gender differences in career expectations. To convince female nurses to apply for management positions as often as male nurses do, the health sector has to improve their recruitment practices and hiring processes.


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