ABOUT THIS EPISODE

You've certainly heard some variation of the phrase "be a man." But what does that even mean? This week, we question our existing definitions of masculinity. We'll meet a man who works in a field traditionally considered "women's work." And we'll hear from a researcher who says manhood is "hard to earn and easy to lose."
English
United States

TRANSCRIPT

00:00:00this is hidden brain I'm shocker of it down to at eight thirty in the morning on the first Friday of every month broadcast tankers around the country spring into action his jobs Friday a look ahead to the jobs report monthly jobs report is out and here are the
00:00:15headlines from today's report the lowest unemployment rate in eighteen years lowest rate since the year two thousand many companies now are so desperate for workers that they're actually giving former inmates a chance and even overlooking marijuana use to find people they need and if you're interested in health
00:00:33care or social services one point two million job openings as of this morning well the supports tell the story of a lush employment landscape another set of stories describes a land Baron of opportunity most experts agree coal is not going to make a big comeback as prover old
00:00:54two hundred thousand jobs were lost in the U. S. manufacturing industry still the majority of those Americans out of the workforce aren't looking to get back in %HESITATION they are sort of the missing from the workplace it is now all we need more workers there is a jobs
00:01:09gap in this country with millions of people out of work and millions of jobs that need to be filled what explains this paradox how can it be that there are millions of job openings that employers are desperate to fail at the same time that you have millions of
00:01:26people who say they are out of options here's Harvard economist Lawrence Katz while the unemployment rate now is back to where it was before the Great Recession the non employment rate has risen as people have dropped out of the labor market Norton says the unemployment rate we hear
00:01:44about on the news it doesn't include the people who've given up looking for work there's a large category of individuals court don't call themselves retired don't call themselves in school and don't call themselves looking for work when these discourage people are taken into account that record low unemployment
00:02:02rate three point nine percent three point nine percent three point nine percent doubles why are the people who need jobs moving to parts of the economy that are booming yellow they're gonna be lots of demand for jobs in the healthcare sector physical therapist and home health aide a
00:02:29steelworker out of a job should be willing to become a home health aide right now there are many reasons why this might not happen new professions demand new skills they may pay less but there's also a hidden factor that makes such transitions especially difficult a steel worker to
00:02:48become a home health aide that's not just a career change it's a psychological transformation a change in identity so you it worked in a steel plant you were laid off maybe in the past you had actually been recalled to that type of work but in many cases that
00:03:06job is you know unfortunately permanently gone and it's very difficult to adjust to looking forward to the types of jobs that are out there today we're gonna look in one large group of workers affected by this identity trap and one surprising explanation for that behavior who are these
00:03:26workers men there is very little movement of men this is not a western university social psychologist Alice Egli she and others have studied why many men are not moving to sectors of the economy that are booming the reasons for this are complex and rooted in psychology and history
00:03:47for centuries women have been locked out of different professions because of barriers built on sexism and patriarchy women have been forced to be flexible or in some cases to elbow their way into professions dominated by men what is the economy has started to boom in areas traditionally dominated
00:04:06by women men have not sought jobs in those fields if anything they seem to actively avoid such professions with women are attracted to the occupation that it becomes something that women do and man what apps hesitate to enter men even avoid female dominated professions that used to be
00:04:28male dominated like working as a bank teller so just because a few miles but then they got to be so many women that man could find it a bit of a masculinity threat %HESITATION you're a bank teller people say they see bank tellers being women and so they
00:04:45think it but %HESITATION it's feminine not even knowing much about what they do this week on grain masculinity threats man up you must be gay how a fear of appearing feminine shapes the lives of men that affects us all that many many a professional man up all the
00:05:09home okay van up in up support for this NPR podcast and the following message come from Kumaun helping kids master math and reading and develop traits for success like great see how during two months two week free trial this fall visit Kumaun dot com for details %HESITATION mine
00:05:37were smart kids get smarter support for this podcast and the following message come from doctors without borders providing vital medical care in over seventy countries to those who need it most learn about including doctors without borders in your state plans by visiting legacy dot doctors without borders dot
00:05:54org my name is Robert Vaughn when he was twenty three Robert Vaughn faced a dilemma conform to norms of masculinity or pursue a promising career in a field long dominated by women his life illustrates how such norms exert a gravitational force on the choices of millions of men
00:06:20probably grew up in that pre Ohio very small town %HESITATION on the border West Virginia they will kill expectations for the men and bad pre filters services are big and my community for boys who are Robert sage the extracurricular activity of choice was scouting wanting to really got
00:06:38me entrance counting was I grew up in a you called a broken home might my parents were divorced when I was two and %HESITATION I didn't really have a father figure growing up and so scouting became a way of kind of getting bond with other men a few
00:07:00yards into scouting Robert desperately wanted to go on a trip to New Mexico I grew up in a very poor home you know we were on welfare we did have the money to afford such a trip and it's one of the men in our group actually stepped forward
00:07:17and paid for my way to be able to go to so a custom a couple thousand dollars I believe so that was a really impactful for me to have one of the men in our troops that saw me enough as a a son early so someone who took
00:07:32honors wing to say you know what this is important it's a good life experience and I'm I'm gonna take the financial hit to make this opportunity for you Robert loved everything about the trip you're just doing guys things it's it's amazing where you're your building campfires and you're
00:07:53put an item and water and smelling the ponderosa pine trees in your senior year in your prayers and airbags and you're just being rowdy in wrestling it's it's you know it's a it's a great time what Robert graduated from Bedford high school in two thousand two his plan
00:08:16was to go to college but he couldn't afford it actually did not know about student loans surprising enough I didn't know that you can get loans for college I thought you just had to pay out of pocket and also I don't have that kind of money and so
00:08:29my opportunities were either go get some working class job in my town working manufacturing and plant or join the military he chose the latter he enlisted in the navy one of the things they asked me was where do you want to have your first duty station I said
00:08:53I want to be as far away from Ohio is possible and they said house San Diego sound the service is good his first job out at sea was an aviation boatswain's mates handle long job title paired with equally long work hours eighteen hour days we would get the
00:09:18aircraft from the flight deck and we would axiom down to the hangar bay and chakram and chain them and ink and do that and so we have these long flight days of bring in aircraft down for maintenance Robert like working those long hours living on the ship was
00:09:35like an extended scouting trip up to see there's there's literally nothing else do you are living your life with these people twenty four seven and sold the downtime for us became sitting around and talking to each other and Russell it would be in our our breakroom pretty much
00:09:54just sending full on group wrestling sessions to get out the energy and then they say okay we got some flights are coming and we gonna bring down and so you just on that %HESITATION days is just just your whole life is around doing your job Robert joined the
00:10:22military because he didn't have the money for college but after four years of service he qualified for the GI bill which would cover his tuition and living expenses in two thousand seven when he was twenty three I got all the military and my wife became the primary breadwinner
00:10:39forced he began thinking about schools and programs his wife's father had a suggestion my father in law who's a respiratory therapist said Hey you know you should really look into nursing a man of courage in his daughter's husband to become a nurse have you seen the movie meet
00:11:01the parents you know this is the exact opposite of the relationship portrayed by Ben Stiller and Robert deniro Greg in medicine really feel %HESITATION nursing %HESITATION know really what field nursing the first thing that went through my head was well that's a a woman's job that serve a
00:11:30female job is not something that really men go into we know how this works remember psychologist Alice Adlai women are attracted to the occupation that it becomes something that women do and man what apps hesitate to enter why is this what explains the reluctance of many men to
00:11:52enter professions that are dominated by women psychologist Jennifer Boston used to believe there was a straightforward answer to that question she doesn't anymore support for NPR and the following message come from American Express lots of people have great ideas but turning ideas into reality is tricky far fewer
00:12:13people do that and it's even harder for them to do it alone whether those people in need big strategic thinking or day to day business how American Express believes support is part of the magic formula after all there is no I in week no matter what your idea
00:12:29big or small you don't have to go it alone because American Express has your back don't live life without it Jennifer Boston's mother taught her at a very young age about sexism and misogyny I was raised by a mother who is going through her almond own feminist awakening
00:12:50in the seventies and eighties so by the time I got to college I kind of feminism was familiar to me I I had read a lot about it so %HESITATION is so for me college wasn't about kind of realizing that the world is unfair toward women instead college
00:13:08was when she began to realize how the world restricted the choices of men freshman year Jennifer lived in a co ed dorm she made a whole suite of new friends prior to Colin if I was going to be like just lounging around on someone's bed chatting about life
00:13:30and stuff in music and opinions it was always women and so I remember one time I had a crush on this guy and I thought he was really just the cutest thing and I asked a friend of mine a male friend don't you think I'm gonna changes name
00:13:44I'm gonna column Dave don't you think Dave is really cute and my friend %HESITATION I actually changed his name and %HESITATION my friend %HESITATION mark let's call him %HESITATION said I don't know I can't tell and I was like what do you mean you can't tell if Dave
00:13:59is cute look him look at his face he's super cute and %HESITATION mark insisted that because he was a man and a straight man he was incapable of judging the attractiveness of other men and that can reach me at the time I thought it was ridiculous and I
00:14:14thought that he he was just being kind of homophobic janitor to did you tell your friend I think of being homophobic I don't I don't remember if I accused him of that I think what I was more inclined to do was say nobody's gonna think you're gay I
00:14:29really just want to know do you think his face is attracted Jennifer never got an answer from her friend mark I assumed that he knew but just didn't feel comfortable say Jennifer's first reaction to this was what her mother had taught her guys go out of their way
00:14:47to appear macho because of a combination of homophobia and sexism but over time Jennifer began to study men's behavior she's now psychologist at the university of South Florida I had data prompted her to a more nuanced conclusion about why men like mark behave the way they do in
00:15:11one revealing experiment a team gathered a group of about two hundred men and women and set them in front of computers we just kind of let them right for you know a few minutes about a time when they violated their gender role in in public some of the
00:15:25women talked about being called a tomboy others mention times when they walked in male dominated feels and we made to feel uncomfortable by co workers but men men say things like I wore a pink shirt to work or I I held my girlfriend's purse while she ran into
00:15:41the bank or I ordered a drink at a restaurant and when it came out to me it had a little cocktail umbrella in it and my you know my friends tease me so it's like it's just Monday saying things like women don't say %HESITATION I wrote wore the
00:15:54wrong shirt why would men make such a big deal out of trivial things the familiar explanation is misogyny but then Jennifer began to think about the different messages that boys receive from a very young age we've all heard the towns are you a real manner they say man
00:16:17up or they say you know did you leave your balls at home or whatever I don't know if I'm allowed to say balls at NPR but %HESITATION there's a lot of things that are off limits for men Jennifer's research experiments gradually led her to a new understanding of
00:16:33why men behave the way they do my collaborators and I argue that the male gender role itself is kind of conceptualized as a mark precarious status so manhood is something that's hard to earn an easy to lose relative to womanhood manhood is something that is hard to and
00:16:54easy to use this insight changed the way Jennifer thought about the behavior of a friend mark the pressure to not reveal any kinds of non masculine opinions may have been so profound that it kind of made him feel like he really didn't know seen this way the driving
00:17:14force here is not misogyny but fear men are defending something that's fragile in terms of why this would be the case why would you have one sex essentially have a more limited repertoire or have more policing around its boundaries %HESITATION why do women take their femininity for granted
00:17:34in the ways that men do not take their masculinity for granted that's a really hard question to answer but I think it has to do with %HESITATION how men their social status is more hierarchically organized in women's is so man are kind of more interested in or motivated
00:17:53to attain social status and that kind of then translates into what we propose is kind of a chronic anxiety about their status and that translates into a concern about whether one scene as a real man or not this chronic anxiety comes through in one of Jennifer's experiments we
00:18:13have men do a stereotypically feminine task like braiding Americans hair verses in another condition they braid three strands of thick rope so we kind of in both conditions there braiding but in one condition it's very what they're doing is very stereotypically feminine because there there's a mannequin head
00:18:31and they're kind of the she got this long blonde wig on and they're they're asked to braid her hair %HESITATION and there's little pink little both that they're supposed to put in her hair weight when you run that test on men and you randomly assigned them to either
00:18:44braid hair %HESITATION braid real what how do you test what happens next and what are the men do %HESITATION so so after they do that %HESITATION and also while they're doing the activity were we were videotaping them so we wanted to feel very public to them and we
00:18:58tell them people are gonna later code your videotape so it's not just that they're sitting alone in a room doing this we make it as we make it feel as public as possible so then we shut off the camera and we say %HESITATION for the next half of
00:19:11the experiment we're gonna have you do %HESITATION another activity %HESITATION but this time you get to choose which one you want to do and you can either do this brain teaser puzzle where you have to re arrange the shapes or you can put on some boxing gloves and
00:19:25hit this this punching pad and so in one of our studies we found that if men braided hair than they were much more likely to choose as their next task the punching task but if they braided rope than most of them wanted to do the brain teaser so
00:19:41this suggests that the ones who had done the hair braiding task felt emasculated and so they kind of wanted to restore their masculinity by punching something by you know behaving aggressively this something really funny about the studies and there are you sure that's one of my favorite things
00:20:05about what I do is the kind of the the creativity and kind of concocting these scenarios where you're measuring things that are really important but you're doing these kind of creative and interesting ways %HESITATION in the lab so yeah I I like to think there's something funny about
00:20:20it although %HESITATION I also want to be taken seriously so the findings aren't funny the methods can be funny to be sure it's worth pointing out that societal messages that constrain man have often been developed by men Jennifer's point is not that sexism doesn't play a role in
00:20:40shaping these behaviors her point is that men can be trapped by the gender roles that they themselves have authored there's a way you in which you can look at that your work that you're doing and sort of say in some ways you're drawing perhaps compassionate is sort of
00:20:54the wrong word but you're you're drawing a more deeper understanding of why men behave the way they do that is not just men behave the way they do because there is misogyny right yeah I guess I feel like I I have compassion for anybody who kind of %HESITATION
00:21:10finds themselves stuck in a world that makes no sense to them so %HESITATION regardless of whose fault it is I think that %HESITATION the struggle for status that men kind of are constantly feeling like they have to dissipate in it sucks men worry what other men will think
00:21:30what women will think what they themselves my thing all this leads us back to Robert Vaughn dilemma about whether to become a nurse the precarious status of masculinity drives many man to see the profession as the equivalent of braiding hair with pink ribbon remember that clip from meet
00:21:49the parents that many many a professional no Jack not traditionally this idea is deeply woven into our culture think about all the jokes you heard about man axis so then you heard them on friends there's not a doctor kind of girly isn't and even on shows about hospital
00:22:10life like house sorry can't remember by Monty at for being a male nurse and scrubs she's embarrassed that she likes a nurse and I really can't figure out why well that's because you're doing a woman's job trying so if your in Robert shoes is there a way to
00:22:29silence the voice in your head that says this kind of work is emasculated job job woman's job support for this podcast is brought to you by TD Ameritrade investing lesson number one don't pay for lessons TD Ameritrade education is free so you can use your money for training
00:22:57not learning to train no matter what your level you'll be able to learn what you want when you want it choose from articles videos webcasts and in person events everything you need to take your trading and investing knowledge to the next level start learning today at TD Ameritrade
00:23:14dot com slash education on the latest planet money special report inside the business of asylum we go inside an underground network of professional story writers coaches and scammers gaming the asylum system and how the FBI crack down that's on the latest planet money London all to eighteen fifty
00:23:44four word was spreading through the city thousands of British soldiers had died in a conflict fifteen hundred miles away in Eastern Europe the Crimean War but these men were not killed in combat what they were really dying out which was of not the runes but infectious disease historian
00:24:06Julie firm at the university of Pennsylvania says Londoners was shocked to learn about the poor medical conditions in Crimea one woman in particular felt call to action she was wealthy from high society our name was Florence Nightingale she was able to convince her friends and she had friends
00:24:25in high places to let her take a contingent of nurses to the Crimea to take charge of this hospital in November eighteen fifty four she arrived at a war camp with a group of nearly forty nurses she finds hospitals that are dark in their dingy and there's no
00:24:44air and their soldiers lying on the ground crying out it must have been horrendous %HESITATION with rodents in in filth all over the place Florence Nightingale took charge bringing cleanliness and order to the medical caps she focused on sanitation she made sure that enjoyed soldiers were fed back
00:25:05home she came to be seen as something of a trailblazer when she returned to London she established the world's first professional nursing school with one type of student in mind ship the saying every woman is a nurse and believed that what nurses did was very akin to what
00:25:22women were doing in their homes %HESITATION you can see nightingales influence everywhere in nursing even Julie firemen's job title I am a nightingale professor in honor of nursing veterans at the university of Pennsylvania school of nursing a nightingale professor before the Crimean War nursing was not seen as
00:25:53the exclusive preserve of women everybody was a nurse everybody took care of their family members they took care of the children they took care of the wounded in battle and so the profession in fact you don't even talk about professional but the idea of providing care to people
00:26:12was pretty heterogeneous across across men women and others but Florence Nightingale was convinced that nursing was not for men as how method spread to Australia Canada and the United States women came to dominate nursing men were pushed to the fringes of the field limited to working in psychiatric
00:26:32wards by the nineteen thirties men were only two percent of nurses in the United States even today that number is only ten percent the idea of women being able to give that gentle caring touch when they provided care was really strong ethos throughout the nursing profession in the
00:26:52public of course when you think about it there's nothing inherently feminine about nursing Florence Nightingale literally invented that idea and made it real so if you could turn nursing from a genderless profession to one seen is exclusively female can you make the clock turned backwards to some degree
00:27:14you can speak in any job this again a psychologist Jennifer Boston you could spend nursing as a very masculine occupations it's dangerous it's physically grueling %HESITATION you don't really have to be that warm to be a nurse you it it doesn't hurt but you know it's so our
00:27:32stereotype of the nurse is one that almost you know you could modify that stereotype and turns nursing into a profession that does seem masculine or mail appropriate as it turned out something along the lines of what Jennifer proposed was presented to Robert one remember how when Robert got
00:27:52out of the navy his father in law suggested he think about nursing is a profession it's a in Mansfield pays super up pretty well and it's stable you work twelve hour shifts three days a week you can make good money at it Robert didn't take his father in
00:28:08law's advice but he did get a job at a hospital as a security guard and one day he had a dealer to patients who are out of control we had a couple guys who came into the emergency room who were high presumably on PCP I remember what it
00:28:25was at the time and they were just very belligerent fighting there's blood all over the place and they were %HESITATION had to be split up into different rooms and so we're trying to attend to them well you actually asked to secure them in one of the rooms or
00:28:38what was the role that you're playing yeah security were kind of there to have eyes on and potentially hands on if we need to do help control situation so I was there and these guys both came out of the rooms that they were isolated into and just started
00:28:52fighting and they actually lock themselves in one of the rooms and destroyed the rounded couple thousand dollars worth of damage and blood everywhere on the ceilings and the nurses in Austin the sheriffs were the doctors are all holding down and sedating and and restraining and all that man
00:29:08this is this is pretty cool as much as it was essentially dangerous the action that the nurses are saying was exciting for me you know you think of nursing you think of someone sitting at a a bad sign being let me hold your hand and and you see
00:29:32what it is realistically day to day and for me it was hundred eighty degrees in fact Robert realize some aspects of nursing we're actually quite similar two other things he'd done in his life being rowdy your recipe must just having full on group wrestling sessions nurses in Austin
00:29:56shares were the doctors are all holding down and sedating if you're just going guy things it's it's amazing Robert took his father in law's advice and enrolled in nursing school no it's not as if the old stereotypes about gender in nursing disappeared altogether but Robert found ways to
00:30:14calm the path of his own his wife Christine says that when he was in nursing school he bonded with a handful of other men in the program four of his closest %HESITATION friends are men who went to the nursing school program with him in that kind of bond
00:30:29that they that they build that brotherhood maybe it's very kind of military %HESITATION asking that they they are together and so there's this this common thread of like where the men United together you know in this space he's now being in the field for more than a decade
00:30:43he works in a cardio vascular unit when you made the decision to become a nurse did you tell your friends or family about this and I'm wondering if if you did you have hesitation about doing this what they're an awkward conversation we sort of said you know I'm
00:30:58going to become a nurse that people look at you strangely I thought I would I thought I would get some at least some jeering from guys that you know that I knew to be like all you're going to be a nurse you know you all we always knew
00:31:13that you were %HESITATION in the closet or you know that there's jokes about it well if you're a nurse and therefore you must be %HESITATION you must be gay but surprisingly I did not get that like a lot of the guys that I was friends with stand up
00:31:31when I told him you know to go in a nursing they were like that's cool took a job that pays one of you know it's a job of Servicio you're helping people and their time of need and I don't think is any better job out there as far
00:31:48as you literally get paid to help people and and some of the worst moments and help them get better in healing the home and that for me I get paid to do that it's awesome and I find something really interesting if I do say my husband's a nurse
00:32:01people usually one know if there's a specialty Christine one has seen people perform mental gymnastics when she tells them about her husband's job and sometimes I said %HESITATION he he works in cardiology is it's like %HESITATION it is is if that's masculine yet that's made it more masculine
00:32:17nursing it's it's just a very interesting dynamic I know he'll tell me stories just that hell walk into a room in a patient will assume he's the doctor and once they realize he's not Robert says patients sometimes get uncomfortable but I just got the last week in %HESITATION
00:32:32it's just that thing of that disappointed in there and the voice of or the fear in their voice and you just go %HESITATION it's good if you don't wanna be mailed perfectly fine will work with that %HESITATION I can talk to the Chargers will get %HESITATION assignments change
00:32:45around you will make a note that %HESITATION you prefer female staff only and did you do that did you say that %HESITATION yes I said that I was I was say every time they have an issue and sometimes about no no it's fine it's just I've never had
00:32:57a nurse before that was male and sometimes okay with and sometimes they do want to change and is just is not a factor yeah I just want to spend a second talking about how you feel with these interactions I understand that at a professional level you are you're
00:33:10happy to sort of say you know I like comedy to request and move on but at some level this is you know someone is basically saying they don't want you to be the nurse and is not a little hurtful it's a little hurtful especially when I find it
00:33:26somewhat hypocritical when they'll have a doctor is a male and your they're present they're doing %HESITATION the Jackson it's very intimate but somehow as a nurse I mail and that's a problem it so it doesn't make any sense to me you go into the doctor's mail to somehow
00:33:46you have no issue with them that is a male nurse you have an issue and it's it's contradictory nearly everyone agrees it's a good idea to have diversity in healthcare but Robert says there's a double standard when it comes to men in nursing here you see women going
00:34:03in to become doctors they are it said my you're like oh it's great it's a wonderful thing that they're going to this and when we want that but the flip side of become more men going into nursing there isn't the accolade of all my gosh you are it's
00:34:17great of you to be reaching out and and overcoming these gender stereotypes and going into this profession they just look at you girl you probably weren't smart enough to be a doctor there was something about Robert I figured I couldn't get by just talking to him on the
00:34:31phone so I went to meet you must be Robert how are you he's five ten years a muscular frame and a shaved head with a goatee I shadowed him as he exercised in his home gym I think for him when he was in nursing school starting cycling with
00:34:46a group of other males going through nursing school was a starting point for him of like I'm gonna have my own equipment I'm I do this I'm going to take care of my body and I'm going to do so very early in the morning religiously while I was
00:34:59leaving %HESITATION because I'm just still amazing he makes about four thirty in the morning to do these things Italian this today he thankfully move the session to four thirty PM Robert is set up a bunch of equipment in his garage there's a bench stocks of weights dumbbells a
00:35:22pull up bar my favorite things are the motivational messages plastered on the wall one sticker says discipline equals freedom Robert says it's from Jocko willing Jocko willing keys a navy seal is on Twitter he's a quite popular but %HESITATION he has a method is skip squat day you
00:35:42have a push day of lift day annual pulled as I listen to Robert I couldn't help but remember the study that Jennifer Boston had conducted when men are asked to braid hair they compensate by punching bags to reclaim their loss masculinity could some of Robert's intense exercise regimen
00:36:01be connected to his job as a nurse could a sports truck he drives to work every day be a defense mechanism I think a lot of guys who might go into health care or interested in health and fitness %HESITATION they're interested in and being healthy being fed being
00:36:19active and so they're doing a lot of they're running marathons are doing weightlifting competitions are doing body building competitions %HESITATION and I think part of it may also be showing Hey you know I'm not this %HESITATION I'm not sure the wording and want to use for I'm not
00:36:44a a guy who is this meek %HESITATION %HESITATION %HESITATION I'm not effeminate or are not %HESITATION this nurse stereotype it's a maybe it's pushing against the stereotype of what you might assume a male nurse would be in so it's and you know what I'm I'm not that I'm
00:37:10I'm actually pretty manly and and other aspects but that's another second something got back from the from the hospital looks like a nursing thing that is we use these operations and so keeping track of my heart rate in real time so one seven one by Robert rejects the
00:37:30idea that his own fitness regime is a form of psychological compensation he does see himself compensating in another area I've had patients were fed them a couple days to three days and at first they were hesitant about having a male as a nurse and they would pull me
00:37:46aside as are discharging home in this you know what you were the best nurse the entire time I was here I had a lot of female nurses and they were great %HESITATION but you were actually more gentle more caring because you are acutely aware of the fact that
00:38:01you're being judged in that manner Robert was drawn to nursing because he saw the job is an extension of the identity he to establish in the military when his decade as a nurse he's grown to admire the skills he once considered feminine my thinking on this is evolved
00:38:20to the point where I can seen men are still just as compassionate and empathetic we just express that sometimes in a different way being a father I have two kids you know I don't know my kids the less than my wife does but I show my love and
00:38:40my compassion my empathy to my kids sometimes in a different way than my wife does my daughter who's for almost four goes up to my mother and says %HESITATION camera looking my muscles I work out all my gosh what are these are these two pound dumbbells my daughter
00:39:01wakes up and she wants to do push ups with me in the morning show once in my protein bar when waking up in the morning the impact that I have on her you know is me being a role model for making her a strong independent woman what policy
00:39:27makers talk about interventions to help the jobless find work they talk about vocational schools and retraining skills they don't talk about how without anyone saying it aloud one half of the population might be systematically excluding itself from the very parts of the economy that are booming Robert was
00:39:46reluctant to pursue nursing because of all the narratives about male nurses kind of girl isn't of course there's another word for these emasculate in jokes their stereotypes when it comes to fighting stereotypes we often imagine that the right approach is to explain why the stereo types are wrong
00:40:07but Robert's life suggests a different solution and perhaps more effective one stereotypes are powerful because the stories we tell about ourselves are powerful they shape how we see the world and how the world sees us but in the end they are only stories and stories we can rewrite
00:40:29the this episode of hidden brain was produced by pot shot and edited by terrible and and rate and calling my team includes Jenny Schmitt Thomas Lou Laura chorale and commit of our test restaurant we had audio assistance from Andy Hughes %HESITATION our unsung hero today is Marilyn geewax
00:41:03in her former role as NPR senior business news editor Marilyn took me aside one day and told me that hidden brain need to examine how identity could shape the unemployment rate today's story is a direct result of her suggestion if you like the story you have Marilyn to
00:41:19thank we know that we do one last thing before we go we're just getting started on a show about living vicariously watching other people perform athletic or creative feats instead of attempting those things ourselves do you prefer cooking shows to cooking as watching exercise videos come to take
00:41:43the place of walking out yourself I will feel that **** is better than intimacy with a natural partner if you're willing to share your personal story with us recorded voice memo on your phone and email it to us and hidden brain at NPR dot org use a subject
00:42:01line watching others and give us a phone number where we can reach you I'm Sean could be done to him and this is NPR what to take to start something from nothing and what does it take to actually build I'm guy rise every week of how I built
00:42:21this I speak with founders behind some of the most inspiring companies in the world find it on NPR one or wherever you get your podcasts

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