The salary gap, in general, is upsetting. For some reason, I just didn’t expect it to exist in nursing. In a profession that is predominantly female (according to a 2011 census report, only 9.6% of nurses are male), it really never occurred to me that such a discrepancy in pay was realistic. The results of recent research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association demonstrate that pay inequality not only exists in nursing, but is quite significant.
Here are some highlights from the research letter, which looked at two large data sets (the National Sample Survey of Registered Nurses [1988 to 2008] and the American Community Survey [2001 to 2013]) to assess salary trends by gender:
- Male RN salaries were higher than female RN salaries every year, with an overall annual difference of $5,148.
- In ambulatory care, the salary gap was $7,678; in hospitals, it was $3,873.
- With the exception of orthopedics, male nurses out-earned female nurses in every specialty with the gap ranging from $3,792 in chronic care to $17,290 for nurse anesthetists.
Like many others, I find these results discouraging. However, I am hopeful that nurses will be encouraged to speak up about our worth and engage in salary negotiations. I also am hopeful that employers will recognize these inequities and examine their pay structures.
What’s missing in this research is the reason for this gap in pay. Care to share your thoughts on this?