Nokyoung Xayasane
February 26, 2013

Why Do Male Nurses Make More Money Than Female Nurses?


Nowadays, we see a lot of women working jobs that were previously thought of as “male” careers. The same goes for men, who’ve been taking on traditionally female-dominated jobs in greater numbers. More women have careers in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) fields, and more men are employed as nurses, dental assistants and teachers. Awesome!

It’s cool to see the removal of gender barriers when it comes to employment, but we’ve still got a long way to go when it comes to income equality.

Ever heard of the glass ceiling? It’s the unseen and unspoken barriers that keep women and minorities from rising to the upper rungs of their fields. Well, there’s also something called the glass escalator. It describes the trend where men working in traditionally female-dominated fields tend to make more money and get faster promotions than their female counterparts.

So, besides the similar use of ascending metaphors, both terms describe women getting royally screwed.

The average female nurse earns about 16 percent less than the average male nurse, according to The Wall Street Journal. In 2011, women nurses took home $51,000 while male nurses made $60,000 doing the same job.

That’s a huge difference. This gap in income equality could be related to male nurses working full-time more often than female nurses. But even when looking solely at full-time workers, the income difference is still nine percent, with female nurses getting the shorter end of the stick.

Another thing to note is that there are more male nurses who work in the highest earning levels in the nursing profession. Male nurses make up 41 percent of nurse anesthetists, who take home a whopping $148,000 on average.

Although the income gap is smaller than the national average where women make on average 77 cents to the dollar compared to men, it’s still aggravating that nurses are paid based on their gender and not on their qualifications.

I mean, if there is a real, tangible reason why men earn more than women, someone fill me in. I’m in the dark on this one.

It’s a head scratcher, because male and female nurses are so similar:  They’re between the ages of 35 to 54, have a college or bachelor’s degree and work for the private sector.

So somebody tell me: what’s up? Why are women not being paid what they’re worth?