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The Truth About the Gender Pay Gap in Nursing

Nurses make up the largest segment of healthcare professionals in the United States. Nursing is not immune to the gender pay gap, with salaries for men being higher than those for women. While the gap is slowly closing, it is important for women to take steps that will enable them to receive equal pay.

What Is the Gender Pay Gap?

The gender pay gap is a term used to describe the income disparity between men and women. It is prevalent in all industries, although some occupations pay women more fairly than others. According to a report released by PayScale, the worst-paying industries for women are:

  • Finance and Insurance
  • Agencies and consultancies
  • Energy and utilities
  • Healthcare
  • Manufacturing

How Much Less Do Women Earn?

The following are the two types of gender pay gaps and the amount women earn compared to men.

  • Uncontrolled gender pay gap: Compares all working women and men. Women are paid 78 cents for every $1 men earn.
  • Controlled gender pay gap: Compares women and men who work similar jobs. Women are paid 98 cents for every $1 men earn.

How Does the Pay Gap Affect Women in Nursing?

The results from the Nursing Salary Research Report conclude that women in nursing receive lower pay than men.

The survey included approximately 4,520 RNs and APRNs. Out of the total number 4,126 females and 394 males responded. The purpose of the survey was to assess the income of RNs and APRNs and study their demographics across the country. Survey results show men make an average annual salary of $79,688 while women earn $73,090. That is a difference of more than $6,000.

How Can Women Close the Gap?

The survey established that 43 percent of men negotiate salaries. Only 34 percent of women discuss salary options with employers. To boost their salary, 50 percent of survey takers disclosed that they completed a degree program, participated in training or obtained certification. In addition, male nurses who acquired specialty certification made $1,252 more than certified females.

The survey highlights two actions female nurses can take to eliminate the pay gap. They need to learn techniques that increase their comfort level and confidence with negotiating the compensation they deserve. And, they need to continue their education.

Pay discrepancies for male and female nurses with the same level of preparation, certification and experience are a reality in healthcare today. Female nurses need to stand up for themselves and remind employers that they are valuable. The healthcare industry is known for implementing new policies that make necessary changes or improvements and nurses can help close the gender pay gap problem by saying no to unequal pay.

Learn more about the USC Aiken online RN to BSN program.


2018 Nursing Salary Research Report Houston Chronicle Features Salary Report in Pay Gap Article

Forbes: The 10 Industries With The Biggest Gender Pay Gaps Women dominate nursing. So why do men still make this much more than them?

Health Leaders: Nurses Not Immune to Gender Wage Gap

Institute for Women's Policy Research: Pay Equity & Discrimination

PayScale: The State of the Gender Pay Gap in 2018

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