chart of male and female registered nurses' pay

Chart of the Day: Male nurses outearn women by about 5K per year

Men in nursing have earned more than women — $7,700 per year in outpatient settings and nearly $3,900 in hospitals — pretty consistently for the last 25 years. That’s according to a new study of 290,000 nurses that controlled for age, race, marital status, and children in the home. 

chart of male and female registered nurses' pay

The New York Times considers some of the factors that may explain this gap:

The study did not address reasons underpinning the persistent gap. There could be several reasons, Dr. Muench said: Men may be better negotiators, for instance, or perhaps women more often leave the work force to raise children. Women may have a tougher time getting promoted, she said.

“A workplace may offer a bit more to the men in order to diversify,” said Diana Mason, a professor of nursing at Hunter College of The City University of New York and former editor of The American Journal of Nursing.

Still, it is possible that women earn less because of a “lingering bias that a man is more of an expert because he’s a man,” she said.

Everyone seems pretty shocked at these findings, as if the fact that women still make up the majority of nurses automatically means they’ve got some advantage. But previous research has revealed that as men enter traditionally female-dominated professions, they tend to earn more and get promoted faster. Similar gender pay gaps have been shown among administrative assistants, teachers, and even babysitters.

St. Paul, MN

Maya Dusenbery is executive director in charge of editorial at Feministing. She is the author of the forthcoming book Doing Harm: The Truth About How Bad Medicine and Lazy Science Leave Women Dismissed, Misdiagnosed, and Sick (HarperOne, March 2018). She has been a fellow at Mother Jones magazine and a columnist at Pacific Standard magazine. Her work has appeared in publications like,, Bitch Magazine, as well as the anthology The Feminist Utopia Project. Before become a full-time journalist, she worked at the National Institute for Reproductive Health. A Minnesota native, she received her B.A. from Carleton College in 2008. After living in Brooklyn, Oakland, and Atlanta, she is currently based in the Twin Cities.

Maya Dusenbery is an executive director of Feministing and author of the forthcoming book Doing Harm on sexism in medicine.

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