Gender difference in academic performance of nursing students in a Malaysian university college

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Journal Article
International Nursing Review, 2012, 59 (3), pp. 387 - 393
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Purpose: To examine differences in academic performance between male and female nursing students, and to identify whether professional identity and language usage were explanatory factors of academic performance. Background: Although the numbers of men entering the nursing profession are increasing, societal stereotypes and the lack of male role models in nursing may have a negative impact on motivation, and hence, academic performance. Methods: A total of 147 students who were enrolled in an undergraduate nursing programme in Peninsula Malaysia were surveyed in January 2011. In addition to demographic and academic data, three instruments were administered to measure language acculturation and professional identity. Findings: The mean age of participants was 20.0 (SD: 1.5) years with 81% being female. Almost all students spoke the Malay language at home. Although there were no differences between male and female nursing students in relation to professional identity (P=0.496), male nursing students reported a lower mean English language usage score (9.9 vs. 10.9, P=0.011) and a higher mean Malay language usage score (20.4 vs. 18.8, P=0.017). Males were also found to have lower academic performance than female students, as measured by grade point average (GPA) (2.7 vs. 3.2, P<0.001). Regression analysis revealed gender was the only significant predictor of academic performance (β=-0.44, P<0.001). Conclusions: Males represent less than 10% of the nursing workforce in developed countries, with some developing countries experiencing even lower participation rates. Promoting academic support of male nursing students may assist in increasing the number of male registered nurses in the nursing workforce. © 2012 The Authors. International Nursing Review © 2012 International Council of Nurses.
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