Gender Divisions in Salary Significant Even in Nursing

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Male nurses

March 24, 2015; National Public Radio, “Shots

The Journal of the American Medical Association published a report on Tuesday, March 24th, that indicated male nurses outearn female nurses by approximately $11,000 per year. According to the study, only about half of that gap is attributable to factors like education, work experience and clinical specialty, and that leaves a $5,148 salary gap. This is the case even though females outnumber males in the nursing profession by more than 10 to 1. In fact, men made up only about nine percent of registered nurses in 2011. Even more surprising—men were not permitted in nursing programs at some schools until the 1980s. The largest disparity is among nurse anesthetists, where men make more than $17,000 more than women.

This 91.1 cent on the dollar disparity is less than in the general workforce, where women make 78.8 cents on the male dollar and is actually on par with another female-dominated profession, teaching. According to an article in the Los Angeles Times, women teaching in elementary and middle schools earned 91.4 cents to every dollar earned by men. In secondary schools, female teachers earned 92.9 cents for every dollar earned by men.

Julie Rovner writes for NPR’s “Shots” blog that “the study analyzed data from the National Sample Survey of Registered Nurses, which ended in 2008, as well as from the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey for 2001 to 2013.” According to the Journal of Nursing, the number of nurses in the United States “decreased from 2,669,603 in the year 2000 to 2,262,020 in 2001.” One of the strategies to increase the number of nurses has been to recruit more men into the profession.


As a side note, Tuesday, April 14th, is Equal Pay Day. The chosen date serves as a symbol of how far into 2015 women must work to earn what men earned in 2014. It was “originated by the National Committee on Pay Equity (NCPE) as a public awareness even to illustrate the gap between men’s and women’s wages.” More information can be found on the Equal Pay Day website. –Erin Lamb


  • MaleMatters

    If nurses are like doctors, it’s easy to understand the pay difference.

    Here are two telling examples showing that some of America’s most sophisticated women choose to earn less than their male counterparts:

    “In 2011, 22% of male physicians and 44% of female physicians worked less than full time, up from 7% of men and 29% of women from Cejka’s 2005 survey.” (See also “Female Docs See Fewer Patients, Earn $55,000 Less Than Men”

    “…[O]nly 35 percent of women who have earned MBAs after getting a bachelor’s degree from a top school are working full time.” It “is not surprising that women are not showing up more often in corporations’ top ranks.”

    “A study of students graduating from Carnegie Mellon found that 57% of males negotiated for a higher starting salary than had been offered, compared to just 7% of females. As a result, starting salaries of men were 7.6% (almost $4,000) higher than those of women.”

    A thousand laws won’t close those gaps.

    See “Salary Secrecy — Discrimination Against Women?”