The research, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, shows that male nurses get paid on average more than $5,000 per year than their female counterparts, with the gap not having tightened in the last 20 years. This comes despite the fact that over 90 percent of nurses are women.
“Nursing is the largest female dominated profession so you would think that if any profession could have women achieve equal pay, it would be nursing,” stated Ulrike Muench from the University of California, San Francisco, one of the study’s lead researchers.
The research was compiled by using two sets of data: a survey that covered over 80,000 registered nurses from 1988 to 2008, and another one that offered response from more than 200,000 active nurses between 2001 and 2013. Just over seven percent of the total nurses that were questioned in the two surveys were men.
Male nurses earned more each year, with the overall gap never closing to less than $5,000 even when adjusted for experience, specialty or geographic location. The gaps also varied a lot depending on the nursing specialization: the smallest one was in chronic care, where male nurses are paid about $3,700 more than women. The difference then grows in areas such as cardiology ($6,034) and ambulatory care ($7,678), with the biggest difference being in nurse anesthetics – more $17,000. A common hospital male nurse earns about $3,900 more than a female one.
Over a 30-year career in nursery, this amounts to a male nurse earning on average $155,000 more than a female one. Dr. Muench said that this study might motivate employers to question the methods through which they calculate salaries.
Reasons for the gap in pay are difficult to explain, but before assuming outright gender discrimination, it is possible that men might just be better at negotiating their salary overall. Also, some females are forced to temporarily abandon their nurse jobs at one point due of pregnancy, and this might lead them to refill the position at a lower pay than males that work the position continuously. The average nurse salary in the US is about $66.000.
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