Despite the Equal Pay Act of 1963, women earned only 82 cents for every dollar a man earned in 2020, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This held true even when both genders had similar educations and jobs.
It’s apparently also true even in a female-dominated field such as nursing.
As of 2019, only about 12% of the country’s registered nurses were men, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. According to the Nurse Salary Research Report for 2022, however, median salaries for male RNs were $14,000 higher than female RNs in 2021. In 2020, the difference was $7,297.
The report, by Nurse.com and Relias, a health care workforce training and performance solutions company, suggested one reason for the discrepancy was men were more likely to negotiate for a higher salary, said Felicia Sadler, patient safety and quality executive at Relias, who contributed to the report.
According to the report, about 40% of male RN respondents said they “always” or “most of the time” tried to negotiate a higher salary, compared to 31% of female RNs.
Marina Zhavoronkova, a senior fellow in workforce development at the Center for American Progress, told healthcaredive.com that the pandemic likely contributed to such a large increase in the pay gap.
As schools and day cares were forced to close, caretaking responsibilities most often done by women “came to a head.” Male RNs, on the other hand, might have been able to pick up extra shifts and work overtime, leading to higher wages, she said.
The chance to further their education and earn certifications are also easier “if you’re not the primary caregiver,” Zhavoronkova said.
The report suggested female nurses should feel more empowered to negotiate higher salaries.
“Given the current demand for nurses and the commitment by many healthcare organizations to invest in their core nursing staff as the pandemic wanes, nurses are well-positioned to negotiate better salaries,” it states.