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J Midwifery Womens Health. 2020 Jan 6. doi: 10.1111/jmwh.13060. [Epub ahead of print]

A Survey of Midwives' Attitudes Toward Men in Midwifery.

Author information

1
Perinatal Department, CommuniCare Health Centers, Davis, California.
2
Kaiser Permanente, Seattle, Washington.
3
Albany Obstetrics and Gynecology, Albany, New York.
4
Department of Child, Family, and Population Health Nursing, University of Washington School of Nursing, Seattle, Washington.
5
Providence Medical Group, Everett, Washington.

Abstract

INTRODUCTION:

The midwifery profession in the United States demonstrates a significant lack of diversity. The critical need to address the lack of racial and ethnic diversity in the midwifery workforce is well recognized; little attention, however, has been given to gender diversity. This study focused on gender diversity within midwifery, specifically with regard to men who are midwives. Nearly 99% of midwives in the United States are women. No research has previously explored the attitudes of the predominantly female midwifery workforce toward its male members.

METHODS:

An invitation to an internet survey was sent to the American College of Nurse-Midwives (ACNM) membership. Quantitative and open-ended questions assessed attitudes toward and experiences with male midwives, whether members thought men belong in the profession, whether gender impacts quality of care, if ACNM should facilitate gender diversification, and whether exposure to male midwives impacts attitudes toward gender diversification. Data analysis of qualitative responses used a qualitative description methodology to identify common themes.

RESULTS:

Six thousand, nine hundred sixty-five surveys were distributed, and 864 participants completed the survey. Respondents reported beliefs that men belong in midwifery (71.4%), that gender does not affect quality of care (74%), and that ACNM should support gender diversity (72%). Respondents' perspectives revealed 3 dichotomous themes pertaining to the core nature of midwifery and how men fit within the profession: 1) inclusion versus exclusion, 2) empowerment versus protection, and 3) sharing with versus taking from. Often, the same respondent expressed both aspects of the dichotomy simultaneously.

DISCUSSION:

This study contributes new information about midwives' attitudes and beliefs toward gender diversity in midwifery in the United States. The values of professionalism, tradition, feminism, protection, and diversification inform participant responses. Findings support efforts toward gender diversification and have implications for implementation in education and practice.

KEYWORDS:

gender; men; midwifery; workforce diversity

PMID:
31904186
DOI:
10.1111/jmwh.13060

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