Pay discrepancies between men and women across industries are common. This article explores what it means for nurses and how nursing education can boost career potential.
The Impact of the Gender Pay Gap on Nurses
The gender wage gap is the difference between the median earnings for men and women.
There have been strides to close the gender pay gap in nursing. It has narrowed in recent years but disparities still exist, especially among nurses who identify as Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC).
Men represent about 13% of the overall nursing profession. However, registered nurses (RNs) identifying as male reported a median salary of $90,000 vs $76,000 for RNs who identified as female—a $14,000 gap in earnings, according to the 2022 Nurse Salary Research Report.
In the broader context, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that women in 2020 earned 82.3% of men’s annual earnings. According to the Labor Department, women earn less than men in almost every occupation.
More details about the gender pay gap in nursing:
- The gender pay gap is more significant for BIPOC women.
- In registered nursing, women are paid 91 cents for every dollar earned by men.
- Pediatric nurses report the largest pay gap.
Also troubling is that the pay gap persists even as women climb the ladder into administrative roles. Women in supervisory nursing positions make $127,047, while men in the same positions earn $132,700 on average.
Data also show that the pay gap for RNs widened significantly during the coronavirus pandemic, even as hospitals and health systems struggled to find and retain talent.
Why the Pay Gap Persists in Nursing
There are many possible reasons why the wage gap persists between male and female RNs. One reason, implied from the nursing salary research report, is that male RNs are more likely to negotiate their salaries. In the survey, 40% of male RNs reported negotiating a higher salary always or most of the time, while 31% of female RNs reported doing so.
Male nurses also reported working more hours per week, at an average 39 hours plus five hours of overtime, while female nurses reported working an average of 37 hours plus four hours of overtime. The flexibility to work overtime and extra shifts is difficult for nurses who have family obligations and caretaking responsibilities. Women often take on these roles, which may be a factor in the data.
Increase Your Earning Potential as a Nurse with Education
According to the 2022 survey, 46% of nurses said they plan to pursue training as a way to boost their salary, with 34% planning to pursue a degree. The emphasis on nursing education comes as no surprise. Education and certifications typically lead to higher wages.
Advancing one’s education, whether to develop clinical skills, teaching, or nursing leadership, can contribute to more opportunities and earnings potential as a nurse. A nursing degree is a great first step in a career that includes lifelong learning.Carlow University offers a Bachelor of Science in Nursing for nurses who want to boost their career opportunities. Carlow’s BSN curriculum meets the requirements for the NCLEX (National Council Licensure Examination) and APRN (Advanced Practice Registered Nurse) licensure. These credentials prove that nurses are prepared and have met the level of competency required to deliver quality health care.