Journal of the Indiana Academy of the Social Sciences

Document Type



Although women and men are employed at similar rates, there remains a high level of occupational sex segregation. Existing gender stereotypes influence occupational choice because of gendered perceptions of occupations. In this study, college students (n = 48) were asked to draw a picture of an individual in a gender-typed health profession—either a doctor or a nurse—using a variation of the Draw-a- Scientist paradigm. Using quantitative and qualitative techniques, we find that doctors are drawn as women nearly as often as men, while nurses are drawn as women far more frequently than they are as men. Doctors are far more likely to be illustrated wearing white coats and stethoscopes, while nurses are shown wearing scrubs and using other medical paraphernalia in addition to stethoscopes. Finally, nurses are far more likely to be shown with their patients and to be described as helping others. Our findings provide key details related to presentational expectations for doctors and nurses, which in turn have important implications for occupational sex segregation. In other words, our data demonstrate which types of impression management (particularly attire, objects, and setting) individuals consider to be crucial signifiers for nurses and doctors, which may also influence their occupational choices.