This article is featured in the July 2018 edition of our allnurses Magazine...
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While the number of men in nursing remains low, we have seen growth in recent years. Our 2018 allnurses Salary Survey was comprised of 5.78% male respondents. The U.S Census Bureau released a study in 2013 reporting that there was a total of 3.5 million nurses in 2011. Females made up 3.2 million of these employed nurses, leaving only 330,000 men in the profession (U.S. Census Bureau, 2013).
Here are a few things you should know about the numbers and factors that contribute to the current salary gender gap seen in nursing.
According to our 2018 Salary Survey, the average pay for male nurses with a BSN is $36.70 per hour, while female nurses with the same degree make an average of $35.20 per hour. This is a difference of $1.50 per hour, which equates to an annual difference of $3,120 for a full-time nurse working 40 hours per week.
While $3000 may not be that impressive of a number, when you consider this difference over the lifetime of a career, it adds up. If a female nurse works a total of thirty years, they will lose approximately $90,000. This does not include any cost of living raises that may occur.
Our survey revealed similar differences between male and female nurses with every license and degree type. What's behind these disparities? Let's explore:
Men have been going to college in larger numbers compared to women for years. According to Statista, in 1940 only 3.8% of women went to college, compared to 6.2% of men. Today, these numbers have grown considerably. As of 2017, there were more women with a college education compared to men in general, with 34.6% of women completing a four-year college degree compared to 33.7% of men (Statista, 2018).
If more women are enrolling in college than men, what could account for the difference?
Our survey showed that 53.64% of male nurses hold a bachelor's degree compared to 45.18% of females. When you move up to advanced degrees, the difference remains. A total of 8.1% of men reported having completed an MSN, while 7.9% of females completed the same degree.
While there is a small disparity among education, it does not appear that there is a significant difference between the levels of education of male and female nurses.
Our survey results showed that men and women work in different areas of nursing. The top three specialties for male nurses include emergency departments, med-surg, and cardiac units. Women's top three units were med-surg, geriatrics/long-term care, and emergency departments. Could this be powering the salary gap?
A recent study by Advance Healthcare Network (2018) indicates that being certified in a nursing specialty could increase your annual salary by as much as 23%. Many specialty areas offer higher base salaries as well, providing a more substantial earning potential. If men work in these more highly-specialized fields of nursing and have a certification, this could account for some of the pay disparities seen in our annual survey.
Social factors affecting career decisions have been different for men and women for many years. Non-work-related traits like gender, race, or ethnicity affect access to workplace opportunities that create advantages for some while denying these advantages to others (Bishu, Alkadry. 2017). A 2016 article by Stephanie Stephens on healthcarecareers.com revealed that while men make more than women, their satisfaction with salaries was equal at 44%.
What social factors influence the gender pay gap and salary satisfaction?
One social factor found in many studies is simple - men are more likely to engage in salary negotiations than women (Leibbrandt & List, 2014). One study found men were more likely to initiate negotiation conversations than women when no explicit statement was listed on the job description that the salary was negotiable. (Leibbrandt, List, 2014). However, if the job description stated that the wages were negotiable, the likelihood of negotiations was equal (21.2% of women and 21.4% of men).
What does this mean? The main finding of this study is that explicitly stating that salaries are negotiable closes the gender gap in job applications (Leibrandt, List, 2014).
A 2015 study published by Pew Research Center shows that 42% of women have reduced their hours to care for a child or family member, compared to 28% of men. Another staggering statistic revealed that 27% of women have quit a job to care for children or other family members, while only 10% of men reported doing the same.
Women have long been the head of the household when it comes to children and care of the elderly or sick. Could this be decreasing the earning potential of female nurses? If a female nurse experiences a career interruption it will impact her overall wage potential as she works towards retirement.
While society's idea of men who stay home with children has changed, it is still a role primarily held by women.
A 2012 Forbes article describes the difficult history of women's success in the workforce. Once a closed door for all careers, women now work in most industries and have even started flooding the male-dominated corporate world (Goudreau, 2012). However, there have been reports that women have hit the "glass ceiling" or an invisible barrier that keeps them from entering into senior-level management positions (Goudreau, 2012).
Today, in female-dominated industries like teaching and nursing, women are met with a glass escalator. While women climb the ladder, it appears that men are riding an invisible escalator, straight to the top, taking senior level nursing positions (Goudreau, 2012). Goudreau explains that men tend to be promoted at a faster rate than women in female-dominated professions.
Why would there be glass escalator in nursing? One answer is related to career interruptions that women may experience when caring for family. But, if men can rise to higher level position in nursing quickly and make more money, why have we not seen a rapid increase in the number of men in the field?
Consider pop culture references of men in nursing. TV shows and movies like Meet the Parents provide a poor representation of the importance of male nurses. When will the social stigma end?
Do male nurses indeed make more than female nurses? It appears that the simple answer is yes. However, there are many workplace and social factors to keep in mind when comparing the bottom line of nursing salaries.
1. Sheth, S., Gal, S., Gould, S. (2018). Business Insider. Retrieved from: Wage gap, gender pay gap charts show how much more men make than women - Business Insider
2. U.S. Department of Employment Opportunity Commission. The Equal Pay Act Of 1963. Retrieved from: The Equal Pay Act of 1963 (EPA)
3. Anderson, J., Milli, J., Kruvelis, M. (2017). Projected Year the Wage Gap will Close by State. Institute for Women's Policy Research. Retrieved from: Projected Year the Wage Gap Will Close by State | Institute for Women's Policy Research
4. United States Census Bureau. (2013). Male Nurses Becoming More Commonplace, Census Bureau Reports. Retrieved from: The Equal Pay Act of 1963 (EPA)
5. Statistia. (2108). Percentage of the U.S. Population who have completed four years of college or more from 1940 to 2017, by gender. Retrieved from: https://www.statista.com/statistics/184272/educational-attainment-of-college-diploma-or-higher-by-gender/
6. Stephens, S. (2016) Healthcare Gender Pay Gap Still Significant. HealtheCareers. Retrieved from: Gender Pay Gap in Healthcare
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8. Goudreau, J. (2012). A New Obstacle for Professional Women: The Glass Escalator. Retrieved from: A New Obstacle For Professional Women: The Glass Escalator
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10. Pew Research Center. (2015). Mothers, More than Fathers, Experience Career Interruptions. Retrieved from: >> Mothers, More than Fathers, Experience Career Interruptions
11. Leibbrandt, A. (2014). Do Women Avoid Salary Negotiations? Evidence from a Large Scale Natural Field Experiment. Retrieved from: http://gap.hks.harvard.edu/do-women-avoid-salary-negotiations-evidence-large-scale-natural-field-experiment