A new report shows that, even though there are far more women working in the nursing profession, male nurses tend to earn more money.
The report, which was recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, shows that there continues to be a roughly $5,000 annual wage gap between male and female nurses. Interestingly, that gap hasn’t changed much in about two decades.
Compared to some other professions, that wage gap isn’t particularly large. But the study’s author, Ulrike Muench, says it can add up over time. Imagine, for example, that a male and female nurse start working at the same time. After two decades of service, the male nurse will have made $100,000 more than his female counterpart.
Muench says it’s a surprising finding given the predominance of intelligent, successful women in the field of nursing. “We were somewhat surprised to see that this gap was so persistent over the years, given the female-dominated profession where you would think women may have caught up with men,” Muench said.
In some areas of nursing the wage gap is even more significant. For example, male nurse anesthetists earn about $17,300 more than women in the same role.
The report shows that women continue to dominate the nursing field, with only about one in ten registered nurses being men. That’s up from 1970, though, when only 3 per cent of American nurses were men.
So, how can we explain the wage gap?
The study didn’t explore that question, but Muench has a few theories. For one, some women nurses leave work to have children and sometimes return to lower pay. It may also be that male nurses are more demanding when it comes to negotiating pay raises. Finally, and perhaps most likely, there may be substantial gender discrimination in the field.