by US Army

Male occupational therapists

Strategies to support male students may help address gender imbalance in the occupational therapy profession.

Males make up a low proportion of students/clinicians in the profession of occupational therapy internationally, and New Zealand is no exception with only 7% of occupational therapists being tane/men. It is important to consider why this is and to identify ways to address the imbalance, because providing a male gendered perspective to practice, and opportunities for male-to-male role modelling, may be of value to those receiving occupational therapy services. 

Simon Leadley, Darren Mills and James Sunderland undertook research in 2019 with tane occupational therapy students, seeking insight into potential recruitment and retention issues within the Bachelor degree programme. Tailored support systems are already provided for male students because they are a recognised minority, to maximise retention and graduation into occupational therapy practice. This includes an opportunity to meet with tane/male clinicians from the local workforce.

The research identified that tane/male students would value more mentoring from tane/male staff, and more peer support from senior students too. Similar strategies are needed to attract more tane/male students to occupational therapy. Ongoing research in collaboration with Patrick Broman is now looking at improving retention in the profession.