Does Gender Affect Our Views On Pay?

by TheCommuter, ASN, RN Senior Moderator | 6,388 Views | 40 Comments

Nurses work hard, place themselves in perilous situations, and juggle multiple challenges during an average shift. Why do some nurses insist that the pay doesn't matter? Why are other nurses adamant that the pay does matter? I believe that historical factors and gender roles are major contributors to the ways in which we view the issue of compensation.

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    Does Gender Affect Our Views On Pay?

    The other day I was involved in a cyber ‘chat’ with a user on another popular social networking site who happens to be a nurse in a different state than the one in which I reside. Even though this person has never met me in person or worked with me one single day in our lives, she typed, “You’re probably one of those lazy nurses who wants top dollar for minimal work.”

    Instead of stumbling into the knee-jerk reaction of taking immediate offense, I remained cognizant that people can become antagonistic when cloaked by the anonymity of the vast world wide web. I also set aside a brief moment to perform some self reflection. Am I lazy? Do I do minimal work? Well, my bosses at my workplace don’t seem to think so, as evidenced by the excellent employee performance review I recently received.

    Do I want top dollar for the work that I perform? Well, I’d most certainly be lying through my teeth if I said no.

    Take a long, hard look at the educated professions that are dominated by women. Nursing, social work, school teaching, library science, and psychology are the college majors and professions that are overwhelmingly occupied by females. With the lone exception of nursing, these careers offer some of the lowest starting salaries in the US. It is not a coincidence that the lowest-paying professions in the entire country are taken up by women, whereas the highest-paying professions are filled with men. Something historical is in play.

    Many female nurses make statements such as, “The money doesn’t matter to me,” or “I would do this job for free.” They have the tendency to hem, haw and gently beat around the bush when it comes to discussing salaries, raises, and issues that revolve around compensation, even when they’re living from paycheck to paycheck. Many women are reluctant to negotiate.

    Meanwhile, countless men who take up nursing are not afraid to openly discuss pay rates and salaries. When receiving what they perceive to be a job offer with a lowball starting salary, it is not uncommon for male nurses to attempt to negotiate for a higher pay rate, become amused at the interviewer, or even walk away from the offer altogether. I know that my following comment might drum up some controversy, but I feel that men place a greater significance on compensation than their female counterparts.

    Think about it. Even in entry-level jobs such as serving and waiting tables, male waiters generally opt for the places where more money can be made through bigger tips and gratuities such as steakhouses, casual dining eateries, fine dining establishments, and restaurants on the grounds of country clubs. Although female servers do work at more upscale places, it is also normal to see a virtually all-female staff at low-cost family dining restaurants such as the Waffle House, Denny’s, IHOP, and cafés where less tips are generated due to the substantially lower meal prices.

    I’m a nurse who works hard and deals with various challenges during the course of a routine shift. Therefore, I feel no shame in my game for wanting a competitive pay rate for all the services that I render. Anyone who says that “The money doesn’t matter” is selling herself short.
    Last edit by TheCommuter on Dec 17, '12
    kalevra, DizzyLizzyNurse, Miss Lizzie, and 10 others like this.
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    About TheCommuter, ASN, RN

    TheCommuter is one of the moderators of allnurses.com and has varied workplace experiences upon which to draw for her articles. She was an LPN/LVN for four years prior to becoming a registered nurse.

    TheCommuter has '9' year(s) of experience and specializes in 'acute rehab, long term care, and psych'. From 'Fort Worth, Texas, USA'; 33 Years Old; Joined Feb '05; Posts: 28,333; Likes: 41,327. You can follow TheCommuter on My Website

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    40 Comments so far...

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    Quote from TheCommuter
    “You’re probably one of those lazy nurses who wants top dollar for minimal work.”
    I commend you for holding your tongue. Seriously. I would have verbally disemboweled this person. And then danced in their tears.

    Very few things get this reaction from me: speaking ill of my mother, quipping about my friends (or my dog), insulting my work ethic.

    Quote from TheCommuter
    Take a long, hard look at the educated professions that are dominated by women. Nursing, social work, school teaching, library science, and psychology are the college majors and professions that are overwhelmingly occupied by females.
    Although it is true that we have come far in the last forty years or so in working against feminization, society, as a whole, continues to force the issue. The day we have "Construction Contractor" Barbie, "Navy SEAL" Barbie, and "High Powered Philanthropist" Barbie, we will have finally arrived.

    Quote from TheCommuter
    Meanwhile, countless men who take up nursing are not afraid to openly discuss pay rates and salaries. When receiving what they perceive to be a job offer with a lowball starting salary, it is not uncommon for male nurses to attempt to negotiate for a higher pay rate, become amused at the interviewer, or even walk away from the offer altogether. I know that my following comment might drum up some controversy, but I feel that men place a greater significance on compensation than their female counterparts.
    Well, there's a couple things to consider here:

    1) Men, in general, communicate in a very different manner than women. As a whole, they are more direct, more confrontational, more objective and aloof. Men seldom mince words, they immediately resolve conflicts and just as easily move on. Not saying whether or not this is the better way to communicate, just saying that such a thing promotes, by its very nature, a very upfront discussion tactic on all matters of finance and interview process. So I'm not so sure that they place a greater emphasis on compensation so much as they are more willing to discuss it.

    As someone who works in a primarily Y chromosome dominated area of healthcare, I not only witness this dynamic first hand, but my own face to face communication style has changed to match them in order to preserve both our sanities.

    2) It has been shown that men also strategize in a completely different manner than women. Just as they struggle to multitask, we struggle to risk take. It's simply not a major part of the female psyche. Women, overall, tend to carefully weigh and deliberate almost to the point of obsession over large decisions. Why else do you think all the muscle car marketing tactics are directed at men? (Phallic symbol jokes aside). So for a man to walk way from an interview or a job offer in an effort to hard negotiate a salary is not all that surprising.

    Quote from TheCommuter
    I’m a nurse who works hard and deals with various challenges during the course of a routine shift. Therefore, I feel no shame in my game for wanting a competitive pay rate for all the services that I render.
    And you shouldn't. Ever.

    I'm sure the articles you write and the posts you place are but a smidgen of your brilliance and capability. Your employer is beyond fortunate to have you.

    Cheers!

    ~~CP~~
    Last edit by CheesePotato on Dec 15, '12 : Reason: Did you know the word "not" has a "t" in it? Apparently I didn't.
    kalevra, DoGoodThenGo, VickyRN, and 6 others like this.
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    At the hospitals I've worked at pay is based on years of experience. So there's no hemming and hawing about asking for more or negotiating, there is only one pay for your years of experience. And then there's your yearly review and cost of living raise which is also standard. So it doesn't matter if you have balls or ovaries, if you walk out of an interview expecting them to increase your starting pay you'd be SOL.
    DizzyLizzyNurse, HouTx, and lindarn like this.
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    Quote from SionainnRN
    At the hospitals I've worked at pay is based on years of experience. So there's no hemming and hawing about asking for more or negotiating, there is only one pay for your years of experience.
    Starting pay has been largely negotiable at the facilities where I've been employed. While these places of employment do have wage grids that go by one's years of experience, there's some wiggle room.

    Hence, one new grad will start off at the standard starting rate of $23 per hour at my workplace, whereas another new grad with more aggressive negotiation skills will be offered $25 or more.

    Of course, I'm in a large metropolitan area where there are no unionized hospitals or healthcare facilities.
    MBARNBSN likes this.
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    Quote from CheesePotato
    I commend you for holding your tongue. Seriously. I would have verbally disemboweled this person. And then danced in their tears.
    It is not worth it for me to get overly worked up over an internet comment from an anonymous person whom I'll probably never meet in person.
    kingsmiley, VickyRN, AnonRNC, and 1 other like this.
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    I had a few comments I wanted to make on this article, but CheesePotato said exactly what I was thinking, albeit much more articulately than I probably could have.

    Also I would like to thank TheCommuter for posting this to begin with. On another thread a poster brought up the fact that males are generally paid more than women for the same work. My response was "Not to sound sexist, but the reason that men are paid more than women is because we aren't afraid to negotiate a higher salary." I went on to say "Believe me, no employer is going to pay anyone, male or female a dime more than they have to."

    Well, to the other poster that statement was proof I AM a sexist... Go figure lol.

    Again great article, TheCommuter.
    Last edit by PRICHARILLAisMISSED on Dec 15, '12 : Reason: Grammar. Had to delete a comma
    kalevra, lindarn, and TheCommuter like this.
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    There is no negotiation where I work - all nurses who start out brand new make the same wage. All climb the same steps and get the same raises.

    No union.

    It doesn't matter whether you have ovaries (or not depending on hysterectomy) or testes.

    But yes, men and women are different.
    SionainnRN likes this.
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    Yep that's how it is where I am. No matter gender, if you've been a nurse for 3 years your salary is the same. It's very nice and makes it so there are no hurt feelings about how much you make.
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    Quote from TheCommuter

    Do I want top dollar for the work that I perform? Well, I’d most certainly be lying through my teeth if I said no.
    "Top dollar"? The CEO of my hospital network makes $2 million dollars a year.

    THAT is top dollar. Nurse's salaries just aren't it.
    kalevra and DizzyLizzyNurse like this.
  11. 2
    Quote from MN-Nurse
    "Top dollar"? The CEO of my hospital network makes $2 million dollars a year.

    THAT is top dollar. Nurse's salaries just aren't it.
    Well, I can always cling to fantasies of earning top dollar.
    kalevra and DizzyLizzyNurse like this.


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