This study explores the ways in which female nurses in management negotiate their roles within the male dominated institutions of medicine and administration. Our culture provides to this highly gendered profession a dominant construction of unambiguous identities for both management and nursing. The principles of semiology and feminist media criticism are used to show that negotiation with dominant messages takes place in lived reality in ways that are very similar to the negotiation in which consumers of media texts engage. Nine interview transcripts of nurses in management positions were analyzed for evidence of negotiated decodings of dominant meanings. The analysis reveals the presence of preferred readings, oppositional readings and resistive readings of the dominant construction of identities with an emphasis on the oppositional reading.