There Will Be More Male Nurses; They’ll Still Get Paid More

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MIAMI, FL - APRIL 30:  Registered Nurse Tung Tran hangs an I.V. bag for a patient at the University of Miami Hospital's Emergency Department on April 30, 2012 in Miami, Florida. As people wait to hear from the United States Supreme Court on its decision of the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act, some experts say that if the act is overturned, a decision expected later this year, people that now have insurance will no longer be eligible and will be kicked back into a system where the emergency department is their first visit when sick.  (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
Registered Nurse Tung Tran hangs an I.V. bag for a patient at the University of Miami Hospital's Emergency Department on April 30, 2012 in Miami, Florida. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

The balance of genders among the professions is shifting. Compared to ten years ago, there are more men who are dental assistants, teachers, social workers, babysitters, personal care aides, and nurses. But one thing hasn't changed: Even in these professions, men still make more money than women.

A new study, published in JAMA, looked at the gender pay gap between male and female nurses and found that, though the magnitude of the gap differs based on the speciality, male nurses make significantly more money than female nurses. Once differences of specialty and experience are accounted for, female nurses make about $5,000 less every year, the study found. In 30 years, the Los Angeles Times points out, that means male nurses make $155,000 more than their female counterparts.

From the 1980s to the early 2000s, the number of male nurses almost quadrupled; now about one out of every ten nurses is a man. It isn't news that male nurses make more than their female counterparts; what the new study shows is that, over 25 years, the pay gap hasn't narrowed, really at all.

There is an argument that in the future, the gender pay gap will shrink, or even disappear. Awareness of the problem is increasing, and women are getting better at negotiating salaries. But this study doesn't bode well. It won't be so surprising if 25 years from now, it's routine to see a male nurse — but he'll still be making more money than his female colleagues.