Black, Asian and minority ethnic female nurses: colonialism, power and racism

Beverley Brathwaite

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


The history of black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) women who came to the UK to work as nurses is interwoven with the history of the NHS. The colonial construct of the BAME female nurse is embedded in British society. From the post-second-world-war years to the 1960s, to today, BAME women chose to become nurses and work in the ‘motherland’, a term regularly used by those immigrating to England from the former colonies. The experiences of the BAME female nurse in the 1970s and early 1980s were of overt racism and lack of advancement. Although racism was less overt in the late 1980s and 1990s, these experiences continued and BAME female nurse advancement levels remained lower than among their white female counterparts. In the 21st century there continues to be significant differences in treatment of BAME female nurses compared with white nursing colleagues, with the enduring effects of the coloniser holding the power to impact on the BAME female nurse who is the colonised, racially stereotyped and less powerful. There are multifaceted reasons for the unequal treatment of BAME female nurses. However, the persistent construct of colonialism and power needs to be recognised if the NHS is to acknowledge ongoing racialised inequalities experienced by BAME female nurses. A recognition of racist and sexist discriminatory actions must occur to permit the development of equal opportunity strategies to address these unacceptable inequalities and generate a real cultural shift.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)254-258
Number of pages5
JournalBritish Journal of Nursing
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 8 Mar 2018


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