Gender Pay Gap in Nursing

As with other careers, there’s a disparity of income between men and women in the healthcare industry. What is perplexing; however, is that nursing has traditionally been a female dominated industry, and today there’s many more female physicians than there have been in the past. Why do women still earn less than men in the medical field today? Ironically, in an industry that cares for the health of people.

How Much More Do Males Earn?

In 1963, President John F. Kennedy signed the Equal Pay Act. At the time, women made less than 60 percent of each dollar a man made. Today, the average woman makes 70-80 percent of each dollar made by their male counterparts. Unfortunately, in most cases, women haven’t received more compensation than men in their careers.

Perhaps women are making less because they’re more likely to work less, in order to care for their families. But, women are also more content with caring for their patients than making money, so shouldn’t their pay increases reflect this dedicated work ethic? In an effort to help women eliminate the wage gap, here are some of the reasons male nurses and doctors make more money, and some strategies for women to emulate this behavior.

Men Are More Likely to Seek Higher Education

In the nursing field, men comprise approximately 6 percent of nursing positions. However, there is a larger concentration of men who are nurse specialists. In order to specialize in a field, a nurse has to receive higher education.

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Men are more likely to earn a degree as a Registered Nurse (RN) than a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN), or earn their Bachelor of Science in Nursing Degree (BSN). Likewise, men are more likely than women to get their Master’s Degree in Nursing, as well. The higher the degree, the higher the wages. So, get your butts back to school, ladies.

This is one factor that female nurses can easily overcome. If they seek higher education, they too can earn more money. The Gwynedd Mercy University graduate nursing school is an example of a nursing school that doesn’t discriminate based of gender, and offers graduate degrees to help all nurses excel in their chosen health fields.

Men Are More Likely to Negotiate Higher Salaries

Ladies, ask for a raise. While it’s not true in every case, men are more likely to negotiate better wages than women. This could be a factor in the wage gap of nurses. A female nurse may be more likely to accept an offer, rather than negotiate herself a greater wage increase.

Women are More Likely Than Men to Work Less Hours

Maternity leave and family care often result in time off from work. This results in less money earned. Men are more likely than women to take on extra shifts, and work more overtime than women. If a female nurse has a family to care for, it often falls on her shoulders to take time off should a child falls ill.

Economic Recession Created Health Care Jobs

During the economic recession, female-dominated health care jobs increased, and the jobs which were typically male-dominated decreased. This resulted in more men choosing health care as a profession.

Nurses in the Military are Typically Men

Although there are many female military personnel in health care positions, males do dominate the field. Military health care workers earn higher wages than nonmilitary workers. They also receive financial incentives, including repayment of student loans, housing, and insurance benefits.

It’s important to note that the pay gap between male and females isn’t limited to nursing. Women, in all fields, are urged to apply for better paying position, and push ahead with their careers. It would benefit more women to negotiate higher pay rates, and spend more time networking, serving on committees, and attending conferences which may push their career forward.

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