With blue-collar jobs disappearing in greater numbers, men are starting to take an interest in more female-dominated fields like teaching and nursing. Many healthcare facilities are struggling to attract and retain top-tier talent, so welcoming more men into the field can help assuage the country’s nursing shortage. But some female nurses are starting to notice their male colleagues are making more money for their time, which can complicate this new work dynamic. Learn more about the rise of male nurses and what this means for pay equity.
The Rise of the Male Nurse
The number of men in nursing has jumped over time. Men made up just 2% of the nursing workforce back in the 1960s, but today they make up around 13%, and those numbers are rising year after year. Men even have their own nursing organization, known as the American Association for Men in Nursing. This organization supports men working in the field of nursing and encourages “men of all ages to become nurses and join together with all nurses in strengthening and humanizing health care” by educating students and job-seekers on the benefits of nursing. Their goal is to have 20% male enrollment in nursing programs throughout the United States and the world by the year 2020.
The rise of the male nurse can largely be attributed to today’s changing job market. Manufacturing jobs have largely disappeared here in the U.S., moving overseas to low-wage job markets like India and China. This has left young and middle-aged men looking for an alternative. With a four-year nursing degree, job seekers can earn a decent living wage and enter a promising job market. Demand for nurses continues to rise around the world, which means nursing is a solid investment for anyone that’s looking for a long and fruitful career.
Why Some Male Nurses Make More Money
As more men enter the field of nursing, they’re starting to make more money than their female colleagues. Across all industries, women tend to make on average 20% percent less than their male colleagues, despite the fact that women make up half the country’s workforce, tend to have more college degrees, and are the sole or co-breadwinner for half of all families with children. With regard to nursing, studies show male registered nurses outearn their female colleagues by approximately $5,000 annually.
There are several possible explanations for this trend. Men tend to value themselves more than women when negotiating the terms of a new position. Male nurses may start out at a higher wage and earn more as the years go on because they asked for more money upfront. If the facility in question is struggling to attract new nurses, some men may leverage this during the initial job interview and ask for more money per hour.
Many male nurses also field offers outside their current employer. With counter offers on the table, male nurses can then go back to their current employer and negotiate for a higher rate of pay. Again, if the facility is desperate for nurses, they will likely pay the nurse more money for their time as opposed to hiring a new nurse, which can cost tens of thousands of dollars in training and recruitment.
Old-fashioned sexism may also come into play. Some employers may simply value male nurses more than female nurses, handing out raises and promotions based on gender rather than merit. But can it also be a cultural approach? We spoke to a Canadian Nurse who stated: ‘We simply don’t have this problem in Canada, equal pay is the norm’.’
How to Advocate for More Money as a Nurse
If a female nurse believes they should be making more money for their time, there are several ways they can go about advocating for more money.
1. Ask for a higher rate of pay when interviewing for a new position.
New and experienced nurses should be assertive and clearly state their worth when interviewing for a new position. Facilities need qualified nurses and they’ll be willing to pay more for the right expertise and training. If the nurse’s desired rate of pay is too high, they can always negotiate with their new employer until they settle on an amount that works for both parties.
2. Field offers from other employers and use them as leverage when asking for more money.
Nurses should always be on the lookout for new career opportunities. This can lead to a better-paying position or help nurses advocate for more money at their current job. Nurses should ask for a raise with a counter offer on the table.
3. Talk about compensation with colleagues.
Nurses shouldn’t be afraid of talking openly with their peers and colleagues about how much they make at work. If a nurse discovers they’re making less than one of their colleagues, they can take it up with their employer and ask for more money.
Pay equity continues to be a major issue across nearly every industry – and healthcare is no exception. Nurses should feel comfortable advocating for themselves at work. If a nurse has more experience, education and a stellar reputation on the floor, they shouldn’t settle for a lower rate of pay. It’s all about helping nurses understand their worth.