Lighting the torch for males in health and social care

20th August 2021

Across the globe, there is a significant shortage of males pursuing careers within the healthcare industry, with recent statistics showing that females account for 70% of the health and social care sector, and a large majority of nurses and midwives.

To add to this, research has revealed that 77% of all UK NHS staff are female. This gender imbalance is also reflected within education, with many males deciding not to choose a career in healthcare, often due to the deep-rooted stereotypes of males within these roles.

Leeds City College student, Harry Davenport, is a leading force for change at the college, and is committed to challenging the stigma and encouraging more males into these roles.

Tackling prejudices 

Living with the daily struggles of epilepsy, Harry experienced first-hand how valuable healthcare workers are in supporting him through his journey. With this in mind, and a desire to help others, he embarked on his career path by choosing to study Health Science and Social Care at the college.

“I joined Leeds City College as an adult learner at 21 years old, which actually made me the oldest student on the course – this, paired with the fact that I am the only male on my course, was an initially daunting prospect. However, I took it as a privilege and made it my mission to act as a role model for other males considering a career within this sector.

“Being the only male on the course hasn’t come without its challenges; I have often missed interacting with other males, but I’ve been working hard to promote health and social care for prospective students and inspire males of all ages to consider a career in this industry.

“I’m currently working on a departmental project to encourage more males into the sector by taking part in a promotional video. I’m interested in visiting schools across the region to talk to students about how males can benefit from working in this industry, including the diverse career opportunities. 

“I’d also like to invite prospective male students to join in on our department football team, The Evergreen Boys, so they can engage physically and socially with like-minded individuals who are passionate about health and social care.”

Influencing the mental health landscape

A keen advocate for crucial issues including mental health and gambling, Harry has been a leading voice within the School of Health, Science and Social Care.

“It’s no secret how much the pandemic has affected everyone’s mental health over the past year, however it’s known that males don’t discuss their feelings enough and I’m committed to tackling this. 

“In the UK, around one in eight men has a common mental health problem and men are three times more likely to commit suicide than females. Therefore, I have been speaking with two health and social care classes to educate them on men’s mental health, ahead of International Men’s Day on 19 November. 

“Along with mental health, gambling is another key issue which isn’t spoken about enough with young people. In order to educate my peers on the devastating effects of gambling, I’ve prepared a presentation for the upcoming term which gives insight into the financial, familial and social issues that arise as a result of this addiction.”

Shaping a positive future

The academic journey hasn’t always been a smooth one for Harry,  however the ability to attend college independently in spite of his epilepsy has been a remarkable achievement.

“There’s been times where I’ve struggled on the course, but having Liam Oldfield, a male member of staff within the department, has helped me immensely and reinforces the need for more male role models within the sector. 

“The tutors and staff are dedicated to making sure that all students enjoy their time and have a bright future. I’d recommend the course to anyone interested in studying an incredibly diverse and engaging range of topics, such as human growth and development, empowerment, young people and adults and psychological perspectives.

“My time at college has allowed me to become independent, confident and punctual; equipping me with the essential tools needed to flourish in a health and social care career. I’d advise anyone considering this sector to break through the stereotype barriers and work hard to achieve their goals.”

Leeds City College is joining in with this year’s Festival of Learning; a national campaign which celebrates adult learners and their journeys. Find out more about the festival and how you can take part here.

Leeds City College