Diversity in the Irish Workplace - Lesbian Women’s Experience as Nurses

By Mel Duffy.

Published by The Diversity Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Work is an area which represents an important part of people’s lives where they encounter the Other. It provides an individual with a sense of who they are in society, through their membership of communities. Through work, a lesbian woman’s identity has to be negotiated as private lives and public lives can overlap. For lesbian women, work and identity intersect, providing a coherent sense of accomplishment. Research has shown that lesbian women are aware of the attitudes that prevail about lesbian women in the health care environment as they encounter them in their working lives: homophobia; lack of social support and understanding leading to non-disclosure of their own sexuality. Lesbian nurses work within the institution of medicine that reflects societal heterosexual norms.

The methodology derived from the qualitative tradition employing hermeneutic phenomenology. It presents an original conceptualisation and consistent application of theoretical frameworks of Heidegger and Sartre. Interviews were conducted between March 2006 and April 2007 with seven lesbian nurses. Lesbian nurses in Ireland remain in the “closet” leading some lesbian nurses to experience social isolation. This paper argues that being oneself is difficult for lesbian nurses who work in the heteronormative culture of Irish hospitals.

Keywords: Lesbian, Nurses, Phenomenology, Health Care

International Journal of Diversity in Organizations, Communities and Nations, Volume 10, Issue 3, pp.231-242. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 640.147KB).

Dr. Mel Duffy

Lecturer in Sociology, School of Nursing, Dublin City University, Dublin, Ireland

Mel Duffy is a Sociology lecturer in the School of Nursing, Dublin City University. She obtained her Ph.D. in 2008 in the School of Language and Intercultural Studies, Dublin City University. The title of her thesis was “Voices from the Hinterland: Lesbian Women’s Experience of Irish Health Care”. Her research interests include lesbian health and health care; inequalities in health care; marginalisation in health care; hermeneutic phenomenology and existentialism.


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