Gender Bias in Healthcare Occupations

One study reports that patients are more likely to think that men are doctors and women are nurses. Discover some statistics about gender disparity in healthcare professions and how you might be able to help. Nurses Announcements Archive


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40 Posts

Having graduated in 1978, making me an older respondent, I had men in my class and a couple years before my class too. The men were aspiring to go into critical care roles and CRNA education. I have had male nurses in roles of DON and CNO and found both to be great mentors since they were both previously floor nurses. Most of my career has been in pediatrics and obstetrics so very few men have been my co-partners. I have had NNP that was as sensitive as a teddy bear to those little premies. Many women even seek out a female doctor during their childbearing years so I am not sure if they would accept a male nurse. As for my preference, I have had some male doctors that were much more gentler that females and I do not believe i would have issues of being cared for by a male nurse.


63 Posts

On 6/21/2019 at 10:40 AM, Melissa Mills said:

The interesting thing about men in nursing is that while they don’t make up the highest proportion of nurses, they do tend to earn higher wages compared to women. In fact, on average, they make about $2 more per hour than women in similar positions. You might be thinking that $2 isn’t much, but when you calculate that out over a year at 40-hours a week, the difference is a bit over $4000 annually.

May we see the particular study to this claim? Reason being the recent claims of the gender pay gap are shown to be inflated by many economists. The difference usually comes down to wages vs earnings. If a woman works more than a man, there is a pay gap sure, but it's because she worked more and earned it. Not from some conspiracy that is designed to inhibit the pay of women.

Specializes in NICU, PICU, Peds Cardiac.

Not to stir the pot, but...

It seriously kills me that even in nursing, a female-dominated profession, men consistently earn more money than women. This is a field where salaries are typically thought of as being non-negotiable, determined by experience-based pay-scales and union contracts. Even after controlling for years of experience, parental status, education, and certifications, male nurses still outearn their female counterparts at the bedside staff and executive level, according to statistically significant peer-reviewed data (cited below).

It drives me little nuts when we have guys on AN asking about scholarships for men in nursing, or asking if they'll have an advantage getting into nursing school since they're a 'minority.' Spoiler alert: even in 'female' fields, men still have a lot of advantages.

I have worked with some incredible male nurses, and I really appreciate the insights of many of the male contributors on this site. I understand the push to encourage more men to join the nursing workforce, and I think the field benefits from increased diversity in every sense (gender, race, socioeconomic status, etc.). Still, this point always gets stuck in my craw.

Specializes in NICU, PICU, Peds Cardiac.
2 hours ago, DaveICURN said:

May we see the particular study to this claim? Reason being the recent claims of the gender pay gap are shown to be inflated by many economists. The difference usually comes down to wages vs earnings. If a woman works more than a man, there is a pay gap sure, but it's because she worked more and earned it. Not from some conspiracy that is designed to inhibit the pay of women.

Just saw your comment. If you read my above post, including the peer-reviewed journal article in the Journal of American Medical Association (JAMA), you'll see that male nursing salaries are still higher than female even after controlling for hours worked, years of experience, education, parental status, etc. Basically, equally-qualified female nurses are earning less than their male counterparts. My post includes links to the initial JAMA study as well as a review paper in Scientific American.

Specializes in Critical care.

So the most recent of these articles includes wages from the 80s? Fake news.

OUxPhys, BSN, RN

1,203 Posts

Specializes in Cardiology.

I dont buy into the men make more than women in nursing. Nowadays everyone out of nursing school starts at the same rate of pay, same shift differentials. I work with women who make more than me.


1 Post

Interesting topic. For those who dismiss it, whilst gender stereotypes may not be a problem to you personally, doesn't mean it's not an issue that shouldn't be addressed. The glaring disparity between women nowadays being encouraged to participate in traditionally male activities , and men NOT being encouraged in a similar way to live their lives in a more 'feminine' way, is blatantly down to sexism. We still live in a fairly patriarchal society and our inherent mindsets reflect this. Nursing has been considered subservient women's work for so long that it is hard for people to move away from that stereotype. And because it's women's work, it is belittled and dismissed. Whereas medicine is men's work, therefore superior.

Whilst nurses are well respected in society, it is often arguably in a fairly condescending way that fails to take into account the rigorous academic requirements demanded of our job, especially those who advance to CRNAs/NPs etc. Let's face it, the general public have no clue what most nurses do or what our education is. They see the nurse putting on a BP cuff at the doctors office, are aware of somebody in scrubs bringing their meals/dispensing meds whilst hospitalized; they watch silly medical dramas on TV, and believe that's all they need to know about nurses.

Women who choose to follow paths that have traditionally been dominated by men have often been discouraged initially by society at large, it's true, but the reasons for that are often because women are believed to be incapable of doing men's work (too physically weak/not assertive, tough or intellectual enough). There are questions asked about what she is trying to prove? Aren't marriage and motherhood enough? But, once they prove themselves just as capable as men in the role of, say, doctor, they are celebrated as brilliant & bold; perceived as breaking down outmoded barriers; making huge progress for their gender, and all that. Hence, many more women in medicine these days.

Meanwhile, if men make a move towards any activity that has been earmarked as traditionally female, the response is definitely not the same! Many men out there would not consider a career in nursing because they consider it beneath them. It is not manly enough, there are still associations with being gay & being a male nurse; not being intelligent enough to make it as a doctor (yes I'm looking at you Meet the Fockers). Far from seen as being out of the reach of a man to become a nurse, it is unfortunately seen as something to be scoffed at by many. Sadly, a lot of young guys out there would not dare to tell their friends and family they are considering becoming a nurse for fear of being laughed at. Hence, still not that many men in nursing nowadays compared to women in medicine. You may not feel this way yourself, but don't fall into the trap of thinking that your own personal attitudes are reflective of society's attitudes.

There is a cultural lag regarding general understanding of what it means to be a nurse in the 21st century. I wish our job were more accurately depicted in the media and also I wish we had less rigid opinions about gender roles.


13 Posts

17 hours ago, hawaiicarl said:

So the most recent of these articles includes wages from the 80s? Fake news.


On 6/21/2019 at 12:55 PM, TriciaJ said:

Is this really still a thing? There was a time when most doctors were male and most nurses were female, so it was a pretty safe assumption. When situations change, attitudes generally change with them, but lag behind for a bit.

I think this is a fire that should be allowed to die out in the course of time. We need to quit throwing gas on it.

Yes, it is still a thing. I work with a hospital that has a residency program that is about 50% female. The way the female residents are treated versus the males are quite different and I'm not going to get into a particular race/ethnicity..but let's say there is a distinct level of favoritism when the resident is from the same foreign country as some of the attending physicians.

At my same hospital, one male RN got promoted to an executive level position with only around five years experience TOTAL as an RN and completely bypassed several levels of management. He was not exactly the rock-star employee. Nobody can remember a single female that was placed in a position that high with that little experience.

Our administration, is also, 90% male at every hospital.

There has NEVER, in the history of our hospital system...been a single Chief Medical Officer that was male.

It will stop being a thing when it's no longer an issue. It is still, an issue. You can't tell me in this day and age..they are simply not getting applications in from enough equally qualified women.


553 Posts

On 6/21/2019 at 12:12 PM, morelostthanfound said:

I have been an RN for almost 28 years and my father was a nurse before me. It has been this way a very long time and though I would love to see this common stereotype change, I have just learned to let it go in one ear and out the other. In my opinion, an even greater bias that exist today in healthcare occupations, is age discrimination! Although administrators and senior management would vehemently deny it, fresh faced, inexperienced, and malleable nurses are much favored in the hiring process over seasoned nurses who have higher salary demands and don't quite project that desired youthful, vibrant image that is important for PR.

It's just recycling the work force. One boat sinks, and you wait for the next one.

Specializes in Critical Care.

I can’t speak for everywhere, but we discuss pay at work, and I don’t get paid more simply for being a guy.

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