Gender Pay Gap in Nursing
The nursing industry is not new to the gender pay gap issue. Furthermore, this continues to be the case year in and year out because there are no clear active interventions on the matter. Male Registered Nurses (RNs) earn more than their female counterparts despite the female RNs dominating the workforce by more than 87%. According to the Nurse Salary Research Report of 2020, the male RNs’ pay exceeded that of female RNs by approximately $7300 in a year (this means that for every dollar a male RN made, a female RN only made about 90 cents). On the other hand, a 2021 report showed that the gender pay gap rate increased twice as much the previous rate—to a $14000 increment (Mensik, 2022; NurseJournal Staff, 2021).
According to the report, these results were mainly attributed to the fact that male nurses (40%) were reported to be more open to negotiating for a pay rise, while women (31%) were not. Women RNs generally regarded asking for a salary increase as disrespectful or outright ambitious. Another factor was that male RNs, compared to their female counterparts, put in more hours of work per week in addition to working overtime thus deserving the higher pay (Mensik, 2022; NurseJournal Staff, 2021).
It is safe to say that higher education qualification, age, and experience levels do not guarantee equal pay for women nurses, thus not improving the gender gap. The US Department of Labor reveals that a white male despite holding a bachelor’s degree only has higher pay than a woman with higher qualifications. Even as women advance to administrative roles, their pay remains lower than males in similar positions. Race is also a factor contributing to the gender pay gap since women of color with similar qualifications to those of white males get lesser pay. As such, there have been reports of general dissatisfaction from women of color regarding their pay despite working more hours than the nurses from other ethnic groups (Vaughn, 2022).
On top of that, the pandemic is reported to have taken a toll on widening the pay gap as seen in the given statistics. The major contributing factor was that female RNs had to take on family responsibilities as the world came to a standstill. Because of this, they were set back since while they were taking care of family, the male RNs put in more work hours that translated to their pay (Mensik, 2022; NurseJournal Staff, 2021).
Several measures can be taken to help narrow the gender pay gap. First, the healthcare industry should empower female nurses to confidently stand up for themselves and do their bidding for higher salaries. Second, employers should conduct pay audits to ensure that they recognize the pay gaps and work towards reducing them. Third, encouraging nurses to not shy from taking on leadership roles as they can actively help in advocating for equal pay. Fourth, encouraging nurses to join unions which will help lobby their concerns with ‘the strength in their numbers’. And lastly, nurses should speak up by addressing the gender pay gap issue to their leadership hence creating wage transparency; but this can only work if the organization allows input from employees when making major decisions that affect them (Mensik, 2022; NurseJournal Staff, 2021).
Gender Pay Gap in Nursing