When the education emphasises empathy: does it predict differences in professional commitment between male and female students in caring education?
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Men are underrepresented in caring degrees such as nursing, teaching and social work. There is a political ambition to attract more men to these educational programmes, in part because of the future, global need for professionals such as nurses and teachers. A common explanation for men not entering these programmes concerns the relational aspects. Care and empathy are important components in caring professions - skills which traditionally have been associated with the female role, and stereotypically viewed as less suitable for men. There has been too little research on how male students that do enter caring degrees evaluate the programmes’ emphasis on empathy, and furthermore whether this relates to their commitment to their future profession. In this study I show that there is no difference between male and female students in reporting that the study programmes have overemphasised empathy. However, reporting that the degree has given excessive weight to empathy is negatively related to commitment to the profession among male students and not among female students.