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Gender Regimes in Ontario Nursing Homes: Organization, Daily Work, and Bodies

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  21 March 2017

Palle Storm*
Department of Social Work, Stockholm University
Susan Braedley
School of Social Work, Carleton University
Sally Chivers
English Department, Trent University
La correspondance et les demandes de tire-à-part doivent être adressées à : / Correspondence and requests for offprints should be sent to: Palle Storm, Ph.D. Candidate Stockholm University Department of Social Work SE-106 91 Stockholm, Sweden <>


Today more men work in the long-term care sector, but men are still in the minority. Little is known about men’s experiences in care work, and the dilemmas and opportunities they face because of their gender. This article focuses on men care workers’ integration into the organization and flow of nursing home work as perceived by these workers and staff members. Using a rapid ethnography method in two Ontario nursing homes, we found work organization affected interpretations of gender and race, and that workers’ scope for discretion affected the integration and acceptance of men as care workers. In a nursing home with a rigid work organization and little worker discretion, women workers perceived men workers as a problem, whereas at a nursing home with a more flexible work organization that stressed relational care, both women and men workers perceived men workers as a resource in the organization.


Aujourd’hui, des hommes, ainsi que des personnes immigrantes, travaillent dans le secteur des soins de longue durée. Cette nouvelle donne modifie profondément le stéréotype du travailleur de ce secteur, soit une femme d’un certain âge née au Canada. Bien que toujours minoritaires, on en sait peu sur les expériences de travail des hommes qui prodiguent des soins de longue durée, ainsi que sur les dilemmes et les opportunités auxquels ils font face en raison de leur genre. Cet article examine comment le personnel de deux centres d’hébergement et de soins de longue durée ontariens perçoit les travailleurs masculins de ce secteur. S’appuyant sur une méthode ethnographique rapide, qui comprend à la fois des entrevues et des observations, nous avons constaté que le style de gestion de ces établissements entraîne des répercussions significatives sur l’intégration et l’acceptation des travailleurs masculins. Dans un centre d’hébergement doté d’une organisation du travail rigide et laissant peu de place au pouvoir décisionnel des travailleurs, les travailleurs masculins sont perçus négativement. Au contraire, dans des centres d’hébergement dotés d’une organisation du travail plus flexible qui met l’emphase sur une approche relationnelle du care, les travailleurs masculins sont perçus plus positivement. Finalement, des processus de racialisation influencent également les relations de genre dans les centres d’hébergement et de soins de longue durée.

Copyright © Canadian Association on Gerontology 2017 

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The research presented in this article was supported by funding from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) for the project Re-imagine Long-term Care: An International Study of Promising Practices and by the Canadian Institutes for Health Research for the project Healthy Ageing in Residential Places (HARP); PI was Pat Armstrong for both projects. The first author has been supported by the Department of Social Work, Stockholm University, and by funds from Swedish Research Council for Health, Life and Welfare (Forte).


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