Real Men Wear Pink
You’ve heard of blue and white collar jobs…but a pink collar job? Yup, it’s a thing! Think of the jobs that stereotypically belong to women, like grade school teachers, secretaries. When you picture a nurse or a dental hygienist, do you see a woman wearing the scrubs?
These pink collar jobs might usually belong to the ladies, but some guys out there are trying to change the trend.
Did you know that men and women graduate from medical and dental schools in nearly equal numbers? But 90% of all registered nurses are still women. 
For dental hygienists, the gap is even worse! The American Dental Hygienists Association says 96% of dental hygiene students are female. 
Meet two Carrington College instructors defying healthcare’s pink collar stereotypes.
Jason Sonne is a registered dental hygienist who teaches at Carrington College. In case the name didn’t tip you off, he also happens to be a dude.
“Frankly, what attracted me to dental hygiene were the hours,” Sonne said. “I liked the flexible work schedule and the pay is excellent. Plus, I love helping people achieve noticeable improvements in their oral health. The more complex the case, the better,” he said.
Then there’s Mark Fuller (also a dude). He earned his master’s degree in nursing and teaches at Carrington too. He was going to go to medical school, but when his younger sister chose Carrington College, he did too!
“I would not have been happy as a doctor. The nursing approach goes beyond what most people think of as ‘health.’ The nurse sees the interconnectedness of things – how everything plays a part in health, from finances to spirituality,” he said.
Both Sonne and Fuller love what they do, but they say sometimes people can be a little weird around them because they’re men.
“When I worked in California, patients would occasionally say, ‘I’ve never had a male hygienist before,’ but the male doctors with their usually all-female staff were thrilled to have me there. In Idaho, I think we could still be more accepting though. I’ve heard people say that I can’t be a good hygienist because I’m male,” he said.
Ditto for Fuller. “Some female nurses seem to think men can’t be as effective, that we can’t have as much compassions. When I tell people I’m a nurse, they giggle,” he said.
These two guys take their experience in the real world and use it in the classroom, teaching their students about overcoming gender stereotypes.
“I was hired to work with students because of my 17 years of clinical experience,” Sonne said. “Like most dental hygiene programs, ours is dominated by women, although we do have a few male students. Regardless of gender, I think I can be a positive role model for all students.”
Credit: Oksana Kuzmina/Shutterstock
Fuller said gender bias is a big problem in the nursing field. “As an educator, I have the power to change that culture. But I still have to teach that there are differences between men and women. Not all female patients are ok with having a male nurse – it goes against or societal concept of what a nurse is. I also tell my male students that they should always have a chaperone when working with young female patients; however, I don’t know of any female nurses who have chaperones when working with younger male patients,” he said.
Fuller also said his female counterparts deserve more respect. “I think I get more respect from doctors because I’m male. I’ve never had a doctor yell at me or make me feel stupid, but I’ve personally seen experienced female nurses, who probably know more than the doctor, be treated disrespectfully. On the other hand, female colleagues sometimes tell me that because I’m a man I don’t have that ‘natural nursing instinct.’ We have to listen to each other, understanding that both genders have something valuable to contribute,” he said.
Fuller and Sonne both make it a point to encourage their students to pursue their professional passion, whether it’s a pink collar job or not.
The American Assembly for Men in Nursing is a great resource to encourage men to become nurses and support men to grow professionally in the field. For more information on AAMN click here.