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Do male nurses get paid more than female nurses?

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Salary, earnings, wages, compensation—however you put it, the money we’re paid in return for our work is important to us. We expect two people working in the same place—having the same amount of experience and the same educational background, and doing the same work—would be paid the same salary. After all, it’s only fair, right? Well, it may be fair, but it’s not always a given.

Unfortunately, even in the United States, women are still fighting for equal pay for equal work in many workplaces. Employment statistics show there’s still a discrepancy between male and female salaries, particularly in the upper echelons of the business world. But is it true for nursing? Are salaries higher for male nurses than for female nurses? Let’s see.

Median weekly earnings

According to a report published earlier this year by Catalyst, a nonprofit organization that, among other things, monitors salaries and work conditions for women, men are still outpacing women in salary even when they first graduate from school, let alone after they have been climbing the ranks for a while. The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) published an article in 2006 which said that women’s “median usual weekly earnings were 81.0 percent of men’s in 2005 among full-time wage and salary workers.” So, we know that wage inequity still exists. But what about with nurses? There have been rumors of male nurses making more money than female nurses, but is there any truth to this? Well, that depends on how you look at it.

BLS numbers from 2008 show that female RNs earned a median weekly salary of $1,011, while the median weekly earning for male nurses was $1,168—meaning that women made only 86.6 percent of what men made. This isn’t much higher than the 81 percent noted in 2005. But—and this is important—is this because of actual wage differences, with Nurse Mary earning $24.50 per hour and Nurse John earning $26 per hour, or is there more to it?

There’s more to it

About 6 percent of nurses in the United States are men. However, men are represented in much higher numbers in nursing specialties that also pay higher salaries. For example, 49 percent of Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNAs) in the U.S. are men. In 2005, the average salary for CRNAs was $160,000, significantly higher than the average floor nurses, who are mostly women. Of course, a master’s degree is required for a nursing specialization such as CRNA, which also increases the take-home salary.

Men seem to go for higher education in nursing than women do, increasing their take-home earnings. There are more men in RN programs than in LPN programs, and more men in BSN programs than in RN diploma or ADN programs.

Military nursing is also a popular option for men. More than 30 percent of nurses in the Army, Air Force and Navy are men. Military nurses not only earn competitive salaries, but also benefit from financial incentives, such as help repaying student loans, special payments, housing allowances and affordable insurance options.

Other variables

There’s no doubt that a large number of women are the sole or main supporters of their families. But men are still most often considered to be the major breadwinners and are thought to put this first, while women—although working full-time—may be primarily responsible for family and quality-of-life issues. This may result in more men working extra shifts or overtime. They may have the availability to do the extra work because their partners are the ones caring for the children after school or tending to other issues that arise on the home front.

And finally, there is another societal difference between men and women that may play a role in salary differences. Although women are becoming more assertive in the workplace, recruiters and people responsible for hiring staff report that men are more likely to try to negotiate better salaries or benefits. While this may not result in higher pay in unionized environments, it could make a difference in nonunionized positions, resulting in higher take-home pay.

So, are salaries higher for male nurses than for female nurses? It turns out that it all depends on how you look at it.

More articles that may interest you:

Sources:

http://www.bls.gov/opub/ils/pdf/opbils55.pdf

http://www.aana.com/BecomingCRNA.aspx

http://www.malenursemagazine.com

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Marijke Durning

Marijke is a professional writer who began her working career as a registered nurse over 25 years ago. After working in clinical areas ranging from rehab to intensive care, as a floor nurse to a supervisor, she found she could combine her extensive health knowledge with her love of writing. Although she has been published in a wide variety of publications for professionals and the general public, her passion is writing for the every day person to promote health literacy.
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7 Responses to Do male nurses get paid more than female nurses?

  1. Sean Dent Scrubs Blogger

    The oh-so common reflexive rebuttal does not apply here. Taking into account all that is listed, just because a nurse is a ‘male’ does not equate to higher pay.

  2. Thanks for your comment Sean. As the article states, it’s the number of men who are in the higher paying jobs, not an actual higher wage. If there are two nurses, one male, one female, who do the same work with the same experience and education, they have the same salary. But if more men go into higher paying specialties or they have more education than women, then they will be earning more money.

    This – obviously – results in an overall average of men making more money than women.

  3. Josh R

    This article mirrors the overall gender-based wage discrepancy argument.

    The wage discrepancy between men and women across various jobs has been explained by a number of findings:

    Statistically, men spend more hours in the workplace than women on average; men are usually more willing to take on undesirable or dangerous assignments; men often have less familial obligations that don’t restrict their options; men are consistently willing to sacrifice comfort and convenience for higher earnings, and much more.

    All this is detailed in Warren Farrell’s book “Why Men Earn More”. I highly recommend the book to both men and women who want to understand this issue.

  4. JB

    To suggest that Male nurses make more money than female nurses is absolutely absurd, especially in a field that has been female dominated for the whole of it’s history and in most respects continues to be so. While I did just graduate with a BSN, I have had the no so uncommon and unfortunate experience of being singled out because I am a male nurse during clinical rotations. While I don’t think this to be the norm in the workplace, I have encountered instances where because I am male, some nurses expect me to do the “heavy lifting” etc., or simply take issue with me because I am a male who has chosen to become a nurse and seem to be offended when I, as a new nurse make suggestions or offer new solustions to problems. However, in my recent interview experiences, I have never felt as if I have been given some kind of increased pay based on my gender and to make such a suggestion is detrimental to future development of the nursing profession as a whole

  5. Dear brother,
    If y don’t mind,I want to know about male nurse.I’m male nurse too.I want to make friend with you.Are y OK?
    Your brother
    zin

    • Elvis

      I am a male nurse in Nigeria, I would love to be your friend.

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