Pay Disparity Between Male and Female Nurses

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Pay Disparity Between Male and Female Nurses

Highly-paid CRNAs are often men

By Working Nurse
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Male nurses may face lingering prejudice in the workplace, but according to a new study in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), they make significantly more money than their female colleagues.

A Gap of $5,100

Categorically excluded from the nursing profession for decades, men still make up only a small percentage of the nursing workforce — roughly 12 percent in California. Men are also more likely than women to leave nursing during the first four years of practice.

Nonetheless, data from the National Sample Survey of Registered Nurses (discontinued in 2008) and the American Community Survey conducted by the Census Bureau, found that male nurses make an average of $5,100 more per year than female nurses in comparable positions.

The gap was somewhat narrower in acute care facilities and substantially greater in outpatient and high-paying specialty positions such as advanced practice roles. For example, on average, male nurse anesthetists make over $17,000 more per year than their female counterparts.

In an interview with NPR, American Nurses Association Senior Policy Fellow Peter McMenamin, Ph.D., acknowledged that the pay gap is a problem, but expressed reservations about the salary data for male nurses, noting the smaller sample size. However, the pay disparity changed little between 1988 and 2013 despite an influx of male nurses.

Asking Why?

The study did not address reasons for the pay disparity, but in interviews with NPR, the New York Times and others, lead author Ulrike Muench, RN, Ph.D., discussed some of the theories other researchers have advanced. Among those theories is the possibility that women fare poorer than men in salary and promotion negotiations and the fact that women’s careers often suffer more than men’s after starting a family and having children. The full study appeared in the March 24–31 issue of JAMA.

Photo above: Nurse anesthetists comprise the highest-paid nursing specialty, with CRNAs in California averaging $183,000 annually. Men represent 12 percent of nurses in our state, but 45 percent of nurse anesthetists.

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