Date of Award


Document Type

Thesis - ECU Access Only


Edith Cowan University

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


School of Arts and Humanities

First Supervisor

Professor Peter Hancock

Second Supervisor

Dr Eyal Gringart

Third Supervisor

Dr Joe Adusei-Asante

Fourth Supervisor

Professor Paul Chang


In many countries, nursing is considered feminine due to its association with stereotypical female roles of caring, nurturing and submission; this may also explain the low status, pay, as well as poor conditions associated with the profession. However, because of

global social and economic changes, males have entered the profession even though the defining characteristics of nursing run contrary to the social construction of maleness in societies like Ghana. These constructions are based on dominance, aggression and unemotional behaviour. Previous researchers of this topic, largely emanating from developed countries, have suggested that male nurses encounter different occupational experiences because of their gender.

This study aimed at investigating the influence of gender on the perceptions and experiences of nurses working in public hospitals in Ghana, and how these experiences impact occupational outcomes. The study employed a mixed methods research design. Participants for the quantitative part of the study were 592 qualified professional nurses selected from hospitals across five regions of Ghana. The qualitative component involved 30 semi-structured in-depth and key informant interviews.

The results revealed that due to internalized gender norms and societal expectations, all male nurses in the qualitative study had either started or planned to pursue courses which would empower them to leave bedside nursing. Furthermore, males did not enjoy any advantages with promotion and career progression. The quantitative study showed that on average, Ghanaian nurses are neither satisfied nor dissatisfied with their jobs. Males reported slightly higher satisfaction levels than female nurses, and female nurses where 1.6 times more likely to be abused verbally. Of the 592 included in the quantitative survey, 9% had experienced physical violence, 12.2% sexual harassment and 52.7% verbal abuse in the 12 months preceding the study. Relatives of patients were the most frequent perpetrators of verbal and physical violence,and medical doctors were most frequently cited for sexual harassment. Long waiting times, perceived unresponsiveness, perceived favouritism and visiting hours were major causes of violence against nurses. Gender, age, pay and promotion, and workplace violence were significant predictors of intention to leave the nursing profession or emigrate. Nurses rated their public image less positively as they believed that they were perceived to be rude and disrespectful.

It was found that there was no gender-based discrimination with regards to promotion among hospital-based nurses in Ghana studied. This study supports the body of literature suggesting that workplace violence is a problem for nurses and health care systems. Policies and regulations must be instituted to discourage the perpetration of violence against nurses. Refresher courses should be given to nurses on effective communication to help reduce workplace violence. Other recommendations are made on how to improve job satisfaction and retain nurses.