Skip to main content Accessibility help

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

  • Palle Storm (a1), Susan Braedley (a2) and Sally Chivers (a3)


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.


Corresponding author

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 <>


Hide All

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).



Hide All
Braedley, S. (2006). Someone to watch over you: Gender, class and social reproduction. In Bezanson, K. & Luxton, M. (Eds.), Social Reproduction: Feminist Political Economy Takes on Neoliberalism (pp. 215230). Montreal, QC: McGill-Queens University Press.
Braedley, S. (2010). Accidental health care: Masculinity and neoliberalism at work. In Braedley, S. & Luxton, M. (Eds.), Neoliberalism and Everyday Life (pp. 136162). Montreal, QC: McGill-Queens University Press.
Braedley, S. (2013). A gender politics of long-term care: Towards an analysis. In Armstrong, P. & Braedley, S. (Eds.), Troubling Care: Critical Perspectives on Research and Practices (pp. 5970). Toronto, ON: Canadian Scholars Press.
Braedley, S., & Martel, G. (2015). Dreaming of home: Long term residential care and (in)equities by design. Studies in Political Economy, 95, 5981.
Acker, J. (1990). Hierarchies, jobs, bodies: A theory of gendered organizations. Gender & Society, 4(2), 139158.
Andersson, K. (2012). Paradoxes of gender in elderly care: The case of men as care workers in Sweden. NORA-Nordic Journal of Feminist and Gender Research, 20(3), 166181.
Anttonen, A., & Zechner, M. (2012). Theorizing care and care work. In Pfau-Effinger, B. & Rostgaard, T. (Eds.), Care Between Work and Welfare in European Societies (pp. 1534). Houndmills, ENG: Palgrave Macmillan.
Armstrong, P., Armstrong, H., & Scott-Dixon, K. (2008). Critical to Care. The Invisible Women in Health Services. Toronto, ON: University of Toronto Press.
Baines, D., & Cunningham, I. (2013). Using comparative perspective rapid ethnography in international case studies: Strengths and challenges. Qualitative Social Work, 21(1), 116.
Bourgeault, I. L., Atanackovic, J., Rashid, R., & Parpia, R. (2010). Relations between immigrant care workers and older persons in home and long-term care. Canadian Journal on Aging, 29(1), 109118.
Connell, R. W. (2005). Masculinities (2nd ed.). Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.
Connell, R. W. (2002). Gender. Cambridge, ENG: Polity Press.
Daly, T., & Szebehely, M. (2012). Unheard voices, unmapped terrain: Care work in long-term residential care for older people in Canada and Sweden. International Journal of Social Welfare, 21(2), 139148.
Diamond, T. (1992). Making gray gold: Narratives of nursing home care. Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago Press.
England, P. (2005). Emerging theories of care work. Annual Review of Sociology, 31, 381399.
Gerstl-Pepin, C. I., & Gunzenhauser, M. G. (2002). Collaborative team ethnography and the paradoxes of interpretation. International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education, 15(2), 137154.
Glenn, E. N. (2010). Forced to care: coercion and caregiving in America. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Goffman, E. (1961). Asylums: Essays on the social situation of mental patients and other inmates. New York, NY: Anchor Books.
Gubrium, J. F. (1975). Living and dying at Murray Manor. New York, NY: St. Martin’s Press.
Han, C. S. (2006). Geisha of a different kind: Gay Asian men and the gendering of sexual identity. Sexuality and Culture, 10(3), 328.
Jönson, H., & Giertz, A. (2013). Migrant care workers in Swedish elderly and disability care: Are they disadvantaged? Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 39(4), 809825.
Kanter, R. M. (1977). Men and women of the corporation. New York, NY: Basic Books.
Malterud, K. (2009). Kvaliativa metoder i medicinsk forskning. [Qualitative methods in medical research]. Lund, SWE: Studentlitteratur.
McGregor, M. J., Tate, R. B., McGrail, K. M., Ronald, LA., Broemeling, A., & Cohen, M. (2006). Care outcomes in long-term care facilities in British Columbia, Canada. Does ownership matter? Med Care, 44(10), 929935.
Novek, S. (2013). Filipino health care aides and the nursing home labour market in Winnipeg. Canadian Journal on Aging/ La Revue canadienne du vieillissement, 32(4), 405416.
Price-Glynn, K., & Rakovski, C. (2012). Who rides on the glass escalator? Gender, race and nationality in the national nursing assistant study. Work, Employment & Society, 26(5), 699715.
Sargent, P. (2004). Between a rock and a hard place: Men caught in the gender bind of early childhood education. The Journal of Men’s Studies, 12(3), 173192.
Silverman, D. (2001). Qualitative research: issues of theory, method and practice. London, ENG: Sage.
Stone, D. (2000). Caring by the book. In Meyer-Harrington, M. (Ed.), Care work. Gender, class and the welfare state. New York, NY: Routledge.
Storm, P. (2013). Care work in a Swedish nursing home. In Hujala, A., Rissanen, S., & Vihma, S. (Eds.), Designing wellbeing in elderly care homes (pp. 148162): Aalto, FIN: Aalto University Press.
Sörensdotter, R. (2008). Omsorgsarbete i omvandling. Genus, klass och etnicitet inom hemtjänsten [Care work in transition. Gender, class and ethnicity within home care]. Stockholm, SWE: Makadam.
Turpin, L., McWilliam, C. L., & Ward-Griffin, C. (2012). The meaning of positive client-nurse relationship for senior home care clients with chronic diseases. Canadian Journal on Aging/La Revue canadienne du vieillissement, 31(4), 457469.
Twigg, J. (2004). The body, gender and age: Feminist insights in social gerontology. Journal of Aging Studies, 18(1), 5973.
Wærness, K. (1984). The rationality of caring. Economic and Industrial Democracy, 5, 185211.
Whitaker, A. (2007). Gamla och nya boendeformer för vård och omsorg av äldre: en översikt. [Old and new residential places for older persons in need for care: An overview]. Norrköping, SWE: Tema Äldre och Åldrande, Linköpings universitet.
Wiersma, E. C. (2010). Life around …: Staff’s perceptions of residents’ adjustment into long-term care. Canadian Journal on Aging/La Revue canadienne du vieillissement, 29(3), 425434.
Wiersma, E. C., & Dupuis, S. L. (2010). Becoming institutional bodies: Socialization into long-term care home. Journal of Aging Studies, 24(4), 278291.
Williams, C. L. (1992). The glass escalator: Hidden advantages for men in the ‘female’ professions. Social Problems, 39(3), 253267.
Williams, C. L. (1995). Still a man’s world: Men who do “women’s work”. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.
Williams, C. L. (2015). Crossing over: Interdisciplinary research on “Men who do women’s work”. Sex Roles, 72(7–8), 390395.
Wingfield, H. A. (2009). Racializing the glass escalator. Reconsidering men’s experience with women’s work. Gender & Society, 23(1), 526.


Related content

Powered by UNSILO

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

  • Palle Storm (a1), Susan Braedley (a2) and Sally Chivers (a3)


Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed.