Media Representations of Gender and Labour in Nursing Strikes, 1984–2014

Aeleah Soine, John R Schneider

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article traces the media representation of nursing strikes in the United States through evolving newspaper, television, online news, and social media coverage of three historical case studies: the nationally-record-setting nurses’ strikes in 1984 (Minneapolis-St. Paul), 2010 (Minneapolis-St. Paul), and 2014 (Kaiser Permanente hospitals, California). Over time, American nursing unions grew increasingly diverse by gender, socio-economic, and racial/ethnic composition. At the same time, media coverage of nurses’ strikes remained dependent upon well-worn gendered narratives of nursing as essentialized female caring that undermined the evolving aims of their collective professional and labour interests. Nursing unions initially benefited from their depiction as young, mostly white, middle-class women seeking fairness for their relatively low-paid work. However, deep contradictions persist in the public understanding of gender, labour, and professionalism in nursing, which have been compounded rather than clarified by its static and often nostalgic representation of nurses in the media.
Original languageAmerican English
JournalMedia History
StatePublished - Feb 21 2021


  • History
  • Nursing

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