Male registered nurses make $5,100 more per year than their female colleagues. Earlier this week major news outlets, including the New York Times, published articles on this research finding that, for at least 48 hours, set off a few flares. The March 24th issue of JAMA, the Journal of the American Medical Association, published results of this research study that found overall, there is a $5,148 salary difference between male and female registered nurses.
First author and lead researcher of the study, Ulrike Muench, an assistant professor of social behavioral sciences at the School of Nursing of the University of California, San Francisco, discussed the research findings in the NY Times. I encourage anyone who has access to the JAMA article to read the original piece and take into account the level of statistical significance of the study results and the number of subjects. This is a robust retrospective study.
This Finding is Significant
This research finding has significant implications and needs to be taken seriously by all nurses and healthcare administrators. Nursing remains a female-dominant profession, but for years there has been a push for men to join the profession and dispel the belief that patient care is associated with gender, when in fact, it is based on scientific, evidenced-based interventions, the nursing process, and critical thinking in managing vulnerable patients and populations.
How can a female-dominant profession have the same issues as male-dominated corporate America? Two additional questions must be addressed: 1) If there is a gender pay discrepancy, do other pay discrepancies exist (e.g., race-based pay discrepancy), and 2) What will professional nursing do to correct any discrepancies between registered nurses of equal education, skill, and work experience?