‘There’s no gender to it’: Pitt named top school for men in nursing


Nate Yonamine | Senior Staff Photographer

Joe Dacanay, sophomore nursing major.

By Donata Massimiani, Senior Staff Writer

Logan Koegler, a sophomore nursing major, said there’s a “large gap” between male and female enrollment in the School of Nursing. He said men accounted for around five out of the approximate 180 students in a nursing course he took his first year at Pitt.

The American Association for Men in Nursing recognized Pitt’s School of Nursing as one of the top programs for men in nursing in the country. This is Pitt’s first time receiving the honor, and a total of 10 universities made the list for 2022. 

Koegler said the imbalance does not bother him and said he’s had a “great” experience in his courses and at the school in general. 

“It doesn’t really affect me in any way, I don’t think it really affects anyone,” Koegler said. “Going into the healthcare profession, you know that you have to take care of both males, females, whoever your patient is going to be.”

Julius Kitutu, an associate dean for student affairs and alumni relations and chief diversity officer for the School of Nursing, said male enrollment in the School of Nursing has increased by about 5% since 2000. 

“The school has been strategically, and intentionally, attending conferences, workshops and seminars, as well as advertising in areas where prospective diverse populations are in attendance,” Kitutu said. 

Kitutu said the “conductive” academic environment in the School of Nursing and its distinguished reputation attracts male applicants. He also said the school has male student recruiters who engage with prospective students. 

“We have also encouraged the current and previous male students to recruit their friends and colleagues to join the school,” Kitutu said. 

Benjamin Jaworowski, a senior nursing major, said the majority of his professors and classmates in the nursing school are women. He said he expected the program to be female-dominated, since nursing is currently a female-dominated field. Jaworowski added that he thinks Pitt sets all of its nursing students up for success regardless of gender. 

“I think that Pitt does a good job of emphasizing all the students’ work, and it just so happens to be that so many men have found success here at this program,” Jaworowski said. 

Grant Martsolf, a nursing professor and the UPMC Health Systems Chair in Nursing Science, said there’s not only a “tremendous” gender gap in nursing, but in all of higher education. According to Martsolf, about 60% of first-year college students are women and about 70% of college graduates are women. 

Martsolf said there are multiple reasons that contribute towards the gender gap in higher education. He said the feminist movement of the 1960s resulted in more women earning college degrees, and that girls are “more college ready” once they reach the age of 18 because they mature quicker than boys due to a difference in brain development

Martsolf added that America’s departure from the “breadwinner model” — a family system where men assume the role of main income earner and women assume the role of staying home to care for their children — left men “adrift.” 

“I think that it had negative social implications for women, but it had very positive social implications for men because there’s a sense of ‘I need to get my act together and support this family,’” Martsolf said. 

Koegler works as a nursing assistant at Butler Memorial Hospital and said there are very few male nurses or aids on staff. He said he thinks it’s important for more men to enter the profession. Koegler added that he’s noticed having a male presence can make it easier to deal with difficult misogynistic patients who may act “negative” towards female nurses. 

“It can make moving a patient and getting them into the bathroom or shifting them to bed more safe for the patient and for the nurses too — not having to put as much strain on their body,” Koegler said. 

Jaworowski said he thinks it’s important to promote all types of diversity in nursing, not just focus on gaining more male students. 

“To have a more diverse program and gaining perspective from all along the spectrum, I think is healthy for cohesion, teamwork and togetherness,” Jaworowski said. 

Jaworowski said he hopes more men can realize that it’s not “bad” to pursue a career focused on caring for others. 

“I hope that the culture gets to see that it’s not just a feminine job, there’s no gender to it,” Jaworowski said. “It’s just caretaking and showing love.” 

Martsolf said the gender gaps in nursing and higher education are “wicked” social problems without a clear fix. He said minor efforts such as putting men on promotional materials can be helpful, but it will not fundamentally change the fact that men are not entering health care jobs or going to college at the same rates as women. 

“I think if Pitt had a broader initiative to get more men into college, specifically getting them into health fields, that would be awesome,” Martsolf said. “I think that would be a real step in the right direction.”