Related News

Home » Feature

Guys take on 'caring' professions traditionally ruled by women

GUYS' good bedside manner

Traditionally women have been nurses, but men are breaking into the profession and showing they are every bit as competent and caring as females.

And they have some advantages, such as relating to male patients, especially boys who see an elder brother, and lifting patients and moving heavy apparatus.

Ji Gang, 25, is one of four male nurses, among 300 females, at the Shanghai Children's Medical Center.

He has worked there for more than a year after graduating from the Shanghai No. 1 Medical School (now part of Jiao Tong University).

When he started he was one of just two males.

He originally wanted to be a doctor, but his marks in the national college entrance examination were not high enough - he was assigned to four years of nursing school, plus one year of internship.

Now he loves his work, mostly with thoracic surgery patients.

He operates respirators and phlegm suction equipment, gently claps the back of kids to help them breathe.

"When I started work, my colleagues helped me a lot," says Ji, but parents were reluctant to believe in a male nurse.

"They thought female nurses would be more patient and gentle," he says.

"But parents came to trust me after they saw how I treated their children," says Ji.

Boys like him, he says "because they like to play with a big brother. Sometimes a female nurse in a white uniform can be intimidating, but when they see me they feel they have a playmate."

Nurse Ji Bin, no relation to Ji Gang, has been working at the Children's Medical Center for more than a year.

"Guys clearly have more strength to lift heavy apparatus. We can do anything a female nurse can do, and we have our advantages," says Ji Bin.

Both men say the nursing profession will become more mature as more men join.

Neither young man is married, but both plan to do something for their fathers for Father's Day.

Ji Bin says, "A good father should be loving, patient and responsible - just like a nurse." Male gynecologist a pioneer Chen Qianqing

Even rarer than male nurses are male gynecologists in a conservative culture where women are often uncomfortable exposing their private parts and discussing reproduction and intimacy.

One of the few males, and a distinguished physician, in this sensitive field is Zhu Mingwei, 50, of the Obstetrics and Gynecology Hospital of the Fudan University.

He has been there for almost 30 years.

Gynecology wasn't his first choice. Like most medical college graduates, he was assigned to a specialty.

"At first it was quite upsetting to work as a male gynecologist," says Zhu. "Most patients preferred a female gynecologist. All I could do was to adjust."

But times have changed and so have women's attitudes. "Patients know that what they need is an excellent doctor, no matter what gender."

"It doesn't matter whether I like the job as a male gynecologist. Every one in society has a duty. I must be responsible for my patients because not a single mistake is allowed," says the doctor.

A twenty-something woman turned to Dr Zhu when she suffered ovarian failure and, of course, could not get pregnant. Her mother-in-law was revolted by the idea of a male gynecologist, but the woman chose Zhu because of his outstanding reputation.

After a series of treatments, the woman became pregnant and gave birth to a healthy baby. The whole family expressed their gratitude to the doctor.

Due to his outstanding work, Zhu was selected in 1990 for a four-year Australian training related to molecular biology and reproduction. In 2000, his scientific paper received first prize for National Outstanding Thesis in Science and Technology.

Being a dad

Asked how he would define "success," Zhu says an individual's success depends on two factors, career and family. "Both are irreplaceable," he says. "The definition of success should include whether one's offsprings are successful."

So parenting is essential, and Zhu had a lot of experience being both mother and father to his daughter for seven years. When the girl was in second grade, her mother, also a gynecologist, left Shanghai to work in Macau for seven years.

Many Chinese people turn to grandparents for a lot of child-rearing. Not Dr Zhu.

"I do not approve of letting nannies or grandparents take care of children," he says. "Parents and children have a special bond. If we think of parenting as educating, then nannies and grandparents are clearly not good teachers."

Each night Zhu tucked his daughter in bed, and told her bedtime stories that strengthened the father-daughter bond.

"I never tell her exactly what is wrong or what is right, because it's very necessary for her to develop her own mindset and values and adopt new perspectives when looking at this modern world," says the doctor.

Zhu took his daughter on outings every weekend. She took an interest in piano, guitar, ballet, synchronized swimming and photography.

Now she has been admitted to the University of Sydney, majoring in medical science.

She wants to be a doctor, like her dad.

"I want her to see more of the world," he says, "and brace herself for the future." Real men teach kindergarten Nie Xin

Ten years ago it was weird to see a male kindergarten teacher. Most people thought men were not as caring and careful as women. And it wasn't manly. Teaching little kids was women's work, so they said.

Today, the prestigious China Welfare Institute Kindergarten in Pudong has 10 men on its teaching staff of around 70. Kids range from two to six years old.

The guys teach almost everything, drawing, singing, dancing, computer skills, swimming and sports.

Qian Gaofeng, 33, has taught kindergarten for more than 10 years since he graduated from Shanghai Normal University. There were only 40 men in the student body of 2,000.

His eyes light up when he's around children.

"I think playing, singing and dancing with kids is wonderful," says Qian who has been at this school for six years. "This profession is full of love."

"But 10 years ago people were shocked to see a male kindergarten teacher," he says. "Parents worried that men were not as careful as women and that their children wouldn't be well cared for."

Qian won them over, and some parents say they want both men and women teachers for their impressionable youngsters.

"We male teachers can be role models and establish a positive image of men," he says. "We can be very influential on kids' healthy development."

Qian got married in 2005 and has no children yet.

"My wife thinks I am too innocent and childish because of my job. She is afraid I cannot survive in this complicated society.

"But I can prove that I am a real man who loves life, job and family, and does his best in everything."

He says he is looking forward to fatherhood and says fathers should take a lot of responsibility in child-rearing. Parenting, he says, "is more difficult than giving birth."

China has more than 200 male kindergarten teachers, a minuscule number, according to Fang Ye, deputy director of the kindergarten. The figure was released at a recent national conference of male kindie teachers.

"People are not as surprised these day to seen male teachers," says Fang.

Men can never replace women in preschool education, but they can improve the system and make it more complete," he says.

Women are supposed to be gentle, men are supposed to be brave, firm and resolute, also tolerant. Thus, male teachers are supposed to have a good influence on boys.

Many years ago Fang was a male pioneer in preschool education and one of China's first male kindergarten teachers.

Today he wants to hire more men.

"I want a male and female tutor for each class of around 20 kids," says Fang. "Just like a family, we need a father and a mother to make the education environment complete."

Cao Jun, 36, used to be a professional sports and boxing coach. Since 2002 he has been teaching kindergartners games, skills and sportsmanship, taking turns and respecting others.

Cao, a graduate of Shanghai Sports University, says family and friends were astonished when he decided to switch careers.

"I wanted something new and teaching kids was a challenge," he says. "I like talking to and playing with those wonderful, innocent children. I treat them with respect."

The father of a 13-year-old boy also says that working with kids keeps him young.

"A good father should take time for his kids, no matter how busy he is."

Cao's son is preparing for a middle school entrance exam, but Cao says he won't put too much pressure on him.

"He will try his best, and the result is not that important," says dad. "He is not as interested in sports as I am, but I will let him do whatever he wants to do in life." A fellow who follows fashion Michelle Zhang

To most men, going shopping, especially going shopping with women, is a tedious job. Chen Jia, on the contrary, enjoys shopping from time to time. He loves giving girls advice on what they should wear, and what they should avoid.

He has a job that most girls envy - a fashion editor at one of the country's most influential women's fashion magazines. Every day, this 24-year-old Shanghai native reads all kinds of fashion magazines from home and abroad, searches for the latest fashion news on the Internet, flips through "look books" of luxury fashion houses and checks out the latest samples sent to him. These range from the most coveted "it" bags and heels of the season, to the exquisite gowns, dresses and coats that every girl wishes to put on.

Doesn't it sound like a dream job?

Most of Chen's colleagues are women. It is always complicated to work in an office with a lot of women, let alone one filled with fashionable girls who love gossiping and keeping up with the Joneses.

For Chen, things are much easier. As one of the very few men in the office, he is considered "harmless."

"They (women colleagues) all take care of me like a younger brother," he says.

Workwise, he tends to look at women's fashion from a man's point of view, which often makes his work distinctive.

"It's just like what happens when I go shopping with girls," he explains. "I give them suggestions from a man's point of view, which often surprises them but the result is good."

There are also disadvantages. For example, Chen always needs a female assistant during shooting projects. "It's not so easy for me to guide those female models," he explains. "Female editors can go straight and adjust the length of the straps or the skirt, but I can't."


Copyright © 1999- Shanghai Daily. All rights reserved.Preferably viewed with Internet Explorer 8 or newer browsers.

沪公网安备 31010602000204号

Email this to your friend