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A Qualitative Study Exploring the Experience of the Male Dietitian from Student to Professional

Publication: Canadian Journal of Dietetic Practice and Research
15 March 2018


Purpose: In Canada, dietitians serve a sex-diverse population despite the profession being predominately female (>95%). It is unknown why there are so few male dietitians. The objective of the present study was to explore the experience of the male dietitian, as a minority, in female-dominated dietetics.
Methods: Two semi-structured interviews were conducted, approximately 6 weeks apart, with Nova Scotian male dietitians. The interviews prompted participants to reflect on their experience of being a male dietitian. Interviews were analyzed using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis.
Results: Male dietitians with between 1 and 17 years of experience participated (n = 6). Participant experiences were expressed as 4 themes: (i) feelings of difference and otherness, (ii) adapting to the female-dominated culture, (iii) constructing a professional identity, and (iv) passion as the driver for success. A theoretical framework for understanding the male dietitian’s experience was outlined.
Conclusion: The experience of the male dietitian is unique and is a consequence of training and practicing in a female-dominated space. The effect of adaptation and construction of a professional identity that is a response to female-dominated cultural norms is wide ranging and may be constraining for male practitioners thereby affecting their contributions to the field.


Objectif : Au Canada, même si les diététistes sont majoritairement des femmes (>95 %), ils desservent une clientèle mixte. On ignore pourquoi si peu d’hommes sont diététistes. L’objectif de cette étude était d’explorer l’expérience de diététistes masculins en tant que minorité dans une profession surtout pratiquée par des femmes.
Méthodes : Deux entrevues semi-structurées ont été effectuées, à environ 6 semaines d’intervalle, auprès de diététistes masculins de la Nouvelle-Écosse. Dans le cadre de ces entrevues, on demandait aux participants de réfléchir à leur expérience en tant que diététistes masculins. Les entrevues ont été analysées au moyen d’une analyse phénoménologique interprétative.
Résultats : Des diététistes masculins possédant entre 1 et 17 ans d’expérience ont participé à l’étude (n = 6). Les expériences des participants ont été groupées dans 4 thèmes : (i) les sentiments de différence et d’altérité, (ii) l’adaptation à la culture dominée par les femmes, (iii) la construction d’une identité professionnelle, et (iv) la passion comme moteur de réussite. Un cadre théorique a été établi pour permettre de comprendre l’expérience des diététistes masculins.
Conclusions : L’expérience des diététistes masculins est unique et façonnée par le fait qu’ils sont formés et pratiquent dans un environnement dominé par des femmes. Les effets de l’adaptation et de la construction d’une identité professionnelle en réponse à des normes issues d’une culture dominée par les femmes sont vastes et pourraient être contraignants pour les cliniciens masculins, ce qui pourrait avoir un impact sur leurs contributions à la diététique.

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Financial Support: Mount Saint Vincent University Internal Grant.
Conflicts of Interest: The authors declare they have no conflict of interest.


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Published In

cover image Canadian Journal of Dietetic Practice and Research
Canadian Journal of Dietetic Practice and Research
Volume 79Number 2June 2018
Pages: 55 - 59


Version of record online: 15 March 2018



Brandon JF Gheller MScAHN
Department of Applied Human Nutrition, Mount Saint Vincent University, Halifax, NS
Phillip Joy MSc, PDt
Department of Applied Human Nutrition, Mount Saint Vincent University, Halifax, NS
Daphne Lordly DEd, PDt
Department of Applied Human Nutrition, Mount Saint Vincent University, Halifax, NS

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Cited by

1. Men who are Dietitians: Deconstructing Gender within the Profession to Inform Recruitment
2. RE: Inclusive Dietetic Practice

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