What you need to know:
- It had been rare to find a male nurse. But men have taken on the job and are counting blessings and some good returns
The job market is now filled with surprises. It takes courage to go for what you want, irrespective of the noise.
For instance, on the other side of the gender labour equality coin, is the aspect of men in once female-ruled spaces.
Ordinarily, some jobs and businesses have been stereo-typed for women. You will find very few men in child care services, nursing, social services, cosmetology, kitchen works, and housekeeping, among others.
However, as times change you realise that life has no remote control, so, you have to get up and change it yourself in a direction that you desire.
Over the years more men have dared to defy the stereo-type by getting in women-dominated spaces. The returns have been handsome, notwithstanding the challenges.
Collins Bwambale was forced by circumstances into nursing. He had, well, not performed as it had been expected. So, he did not make the cut off for medicine after his Uganda Advanced Certificate of Education.
Bwambale had figured that by doing nursing first, he would be able to apply for his dream course - medicine.
“With the stereo-type male nurses get from the community, I never imagined that I would experience any fulfilment from this job,” he says.
It is a known fact, it’s a rare opportunity to meet a male nurse.
But Bwambala has made it there and steadily fallen in love over the years.
Surprisingly, he has also found comfort in the job as many patients choose him over others every time they get an opportunity.
However, even as he has settled in now, having a title of nurse, in and of itself, was a challenge that Bwambale had to overcome somehow.
“I realised ultimately, the patient barely minds about our titles. All they need is relief and nursing presents a special opportunity to know the patient better, given that we spend more time with them than any other medical personnel,” he says.
The nursing job, even at administration level, is mostly a preserve of men.
Therefore, Bwambale has had to deal with women at many levels something that has given him different experiences.
“I am always sensitive about everything. Sometimes I hold back because I would be mistaken for being over-bearing or disrespectful,” he says.
Additionally, he says, nursing brings you closer to people’s suffering and if you are not made of a tough skin you might break down.
“A patient succumbing to an ailment at your watch is the biggest emotional strain. It is usually beyond our control but really takes a toll on you in a very unique way,” he says.
For Stephen Kateeba, he has never been able to get used to being a midwife.
“I always wanted to be a doctor, which was very attainable given my grades in school. However, the deal breaker was when my parents, the only financiers then, met their death in an accident when I was in S5 during third term in 2000,” Kateeba, who has been a midwife for 10 years, says.
Just like, Bwambale, circumstances forced Kateeba into midwifery given that it was the only course for which he was able to secure a bursary.
“During my school practice, it downed on me that this job was granting me a rare opportunity to care for two lives; mother and newborn, a priceless gift,” he says and notes that he has over the years found fulfilment given that many mothers have found pride in having gone through his hands.
The job has also given him much more than he thought, supporting his siblings through school and buying a plot of land that he is currently developing.
However, it has not been all roses.
As a midwife, Kateeba says, I have on numerous occasions found myself having to explain myself to patients that I can actually work on them just like any other midwife.
“The perception is that midwifery is a female job. Many see it as odd for a man to be a midwife. This is generally accepted,” he says, and notes that some mothers ask that he is replaced by a female midwife.
Unlike nursing and midwifery, men have slowly been accepted as hairstylists. The same can be said of women who now work as barbers.
Michael Ochieng, a hairstylist at Jael Unisex Salon, says that actually, now days many women prefer to be worked on by male hairstylists, especially when it comes to some hair styles.
“Customers tend to easily trust male hairstylists,” he says.
One would think this applies only to referral customers, but Ochieng says even walk-ins exhibit the same trait.
This, he says, has worked in his favour given the nature of the job where the number of clients worked on translates into earnings.
“Clients are happy to book in advance or settle for appointments as far ahead as three months just to make sure I am the one working on them and not anyone else. That happens even when I recommend another hairstylist,” he says.