· George Devereux and Florence R. Weiner
It was during the 1860-1930 period that nursing first emerged as a distinct and secular profession, primarily engaged in by women, and, more particularly, by unmarried women. Although there is at present a tendency to encourage men to enter the profession of nursing--out of a total of 1215 schools, there are today four schools for male nurses--and 123 coeducational schools of nursing1--it is, nonetheless, fair to say that a large segment of the role and status of persons engaged in nursing is still determined by the close initial nexus between women and the bedside care of the sick.
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Yet, on the whole, if one disregards some unusual and relatively marginal phenomena, which are determined by special local or social conditions, Veblen2 was right in stating that most masculine and/or upper-class tasks fall into the category of "exploit," while most feminine and/or lower-class tasks can be classified as "drudgery."
In seeking to analyze social conceptions regarding the "nature" of women, which have played such an important role in determining the function and status of nurses, we are in an unusually favorable position, since the exact date at which nursing, as an independent and secular profession, originated, is well known, as is the ideology of that period regarding the special "natural" attributes of the sexes. Thus, since secular nursing originated in a predominantly masculine society, in which the role of the sexes and their "natural" attributes were conceived of primarily in terms of masculine needs and convenience, it was natural that nursing should have been defined in a manner which satisfied three typical masculine needs.____________________