Men work to overcome stereotypes

By Phoebe Suy | Staff Writer

Not all women are homemakers, teachers or nurses — sometimes men are. Some men are crossing stereotypical boundaries in the workforce and entering traditionally female dominated fields. What they don’t expect to find are closed communities and double standards.

Michael LoSasso began his education at Baylor knowing he wanted to pursue a career in the medical field, but was unsure of what direction to take. Originally a pre-medical biology major, LoSasso said he was hesitant about the timeline and costs associated with medical school. His stepmom, a nurse practitioner, suggested he keep an open mind and consider the field of nursing.

“I was like well, no, I’ve never really thought about nursing. Why would I want to go into nursing?” LoSasso said.

He said he believes the media portrays nursing as a predominantly female role, something he used to believe as well.

“If you look at movies, like ‘Meet the Parents,’ the main character is a male nurse and the joke, he says, ‘Yeah, I’m a male nurse,’ and the family laughs. They’re like, ‘Oh wait, you’re serious,'” LoSasso said.

LoSasso graduated from the Louise Herrington School of Nursing in 2015. As a male nurse, LoSasso said he experiences bias, some positive and some negative.

Sometimes patients will assume LoSasso is their doctor or might assume he will provide a higher level of care because he is a male. He said others will even go as far as to say, ‘You’re so smart, you could be a doctor. Why don’t you become a doctor?”

“That kind of upsets me. It’s demeaning to my field,” LoSasso said. “I don’t need to become a doctor. I don’t need to prove to anybody that I’m intelligent. I think the world is kind of starting to realize that nurses are just as respectable as the physician.”

LoSasso said he tries to build up his male and female colleagues equally.

One thing LoSasso said he didn’t expect in the nursing field was the lack of openness from his female colleagues. In LoSasso’s experience, female nurses tended to interact within their own social spheres outside of work, giving him few opportunities to form friendships beyond the hospital.

“I do wish they were more open to having guys around and involving themselves. We’re all just different,” LoSasso said.

LoSasso said the distinction between men and women in nursing school was even more pronounced. The female students would typically stick together and LoSasso said attempts to form friendships would often be misconstrued as romantic interest.

LoSasso works a few 12-hour shifts every week with several days off throughout the week, although not necessarily on a weekend. In addition to time constraints for socializing, out of the 15 employees in his inpatient trauma unit at Parkland Hospital, only two other men are young, single and have no children. Other men he works with are either doctors with their own social group or older men with families.

“I make up for it by doing a lot of independent traveling. I try and focus on my family. I have a comfortable life; I just wish it was easier having more social interactions,” LoSasso said.

For Dallas senior and university scholar major Alexander Patterson, the field of education comes with its own stereotypes for men.

Patterson studies secondary education and interns at University High School in Waco where he teaches Pre-AP geography, world history and AP world history.

Patterson said he always knew he wanted to teach, but his decision to go into secondary education was influenced by his personal experiences in high school.

“To make a long story short, when I came out as gay in high school, I had some support by teachers, but I also had one teacher who pretty much tried to suspend me, get me kicked out of programs and said pretty much that being gay was a character fault,” Patterson said. “I really only had one or two teachers go to the fences for me, and I decided that I wanted to be one of those teachers for kids in formative age.”

Patterson said elementary education typically has a larger majority of women than men in comparison to secondary education. The subject of social studies is the most male-dominated field in education, Patterson noted, but stereotypes exist nonetheless.

For women, he said it seemed as though they were told to be more careful about dress code than men, who were typically told simply not to wear jeans.

“Men have a lot more freedom in that sense, but there’s also the flip side where in training, talking, anything like that, men are typically viewed as — pardon my phrasing of this — but as more sexual predators…a man should never be in a classroom alone with a female student, doesn’t matter if the door’s open, anything like that.”

Patterson said if a female student needs a one-on-one talk, it is recommended to find a female teacher to join the conversation. Female teachers aren’t necessarily told likewise, but Patterson said he tends to err on the side of caution.

“You shouldn’t have a group of all-female students hanging out with you after school with the door shut, but I mean that’s just a thing of keeping the door open and nine times out of 10, you’re going to be fine,” Patterson said. “There’s always that slight worry or risk, however you want to call it, that people will misconstrue it if you’re a man compared to if you’re a woman.”

Patterson said overall he doesn’t think this has impacted his interactions with his students. Furthermore, he said he doesn’t believe there is anything too heavily discriminating against men or women within the education field.

“At the end of the day you’re dealing with children…things you say or they say can be misconstrued by the children, by other adults, even by yourself. So typically, conservative is better.”