Why is there Still a Wage Gap Amongst Men and Women in the Nursing Field?
Maria Mendez It is no secret that women earn less than men in every career field or job. While the gender pay gap has decreased over the last fifty years due to the Equal Pay Act of 1963, it is still an ongoing problem today. A research survey conducted by Pew Research Center has concluded that women earn 82% of what men earn (Wang, Wendy, et al). This issue affects women everywhere in the United States. Our mothers, sisters, aunts, daughters, and maybe oneself. The nursing field is a women dominated profession and men are still more likely to get paid more. There are various reasons for the cause of the wage gap. The most prominent ones are discrimination, the motherhood penalty, and lack of negotiating one’s wage. Gender Roles In the 1950’s and 1960’s there were many obstacles women faced in regards to the work force. Women had lower education rates than men. This was because many universities denied women’s attendance.
Therefore, there was a lower percentage of women in the workforce. This had a lot to do with cultural norms and gender roles implicated by society. Women were seen as primary child caregivers and men were seen as the sole bread winners of the household. Women had to stay home and raise their children as well as be a homemaker. If a women did hold a job, it was a “feminine” job, mainly clerical work or assembly lines in factories (Netflix Official Site). It was viewed as impossible and wrong for a woman to hold any power at home and in the workplace. While many believe these ideals have been left in the past, the wage gap suggests different. A case, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) versus Emergency Medicine Associates, stood out to me. A female doctor was fired due to the fact that she became pregnant. While pay discrimination was not part of the charges, comments made by colleagues expressed an underlying sense of sexism in the work place. They stated that she was “not needing more shifts because her husband was a doctor.” This implied that women are secondary earners and their earnings are not equally significant to the welfare of their family than of men (Hegew, Ariane, et al). Discrimination A wage is generally set according to three factors: educational attainment, geography, and occupation (Wilson, Barbara L., et al).
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Not one of those includes sex, race, or age. However, those are discriminatory factors that cause the wage gap. These many forms of discrimination in the work place suppress women from earning as much as their male counterpart today. If it was not for this discrimination, I believe there would not be any wage gap between men and women today. In the American Community Survey (ACS) 30,000 registered nurses participated. This governmental survey took into account basic demographic information, wages, hours of work, and employment status. 2,400 (8%) of the participants were male and 27,600 (92%) of the participants were female. In the year 2000 through 2009 wages rose for registered nurses, but the gender pay gap was still large. To put it in perspective, in the year 2000 men had an annual income of $68,000 and women had an annual income of $50,000. The largest difference was recorded in 2009 where men had an annual income of $80,000 and women had an annual income of $60,000. In that 10-year period both genders had a $10,000 gain. There was a reoccurrence in 2011 through 2013 with little to no change in the wage gap (Wilson, Barbara L., et al). In this survey it was found that employers have a preference when choosing a potential employee. In the nursing field it goes in order from white men, minority registered nurses, internationally educated nurses, then white women.
The researchers also found that a way to increase in pay wage was to attain more education. It increases about 4.7% of the yearly income for registered nurses. While it is seen as a solution, a woman is still stuck between a rock and a hard place, because “at every level of academic achievement, women earn less than men” (Wilson, Barbara L., et al). In other words, I, a woman, could do the same exact workload with the same level of education and still receive less pay than a man with the same credentials. That is very alarming because there is no justification for this. Compared to fifty years ago women today are out-earning men in college degrees and advanced degrees (Netflix Official Site). Women are becoming educated, therefore, education is not an obstacle anymore. This has made the work force even more competitive because women are now competing for the jobs that they once were not “suitable” for. at every level of academic achievement, women earn less than men at every level of academic achievement, women earn less than me at every level of academic achievement, women earn less t Motherhood Penalty The nursing field is predominantly made up of women, as shown in the survey mentioned above. That is why the factor of being a mother or the possibility of becoming one is very likely to occur. Those who become mothers face higher expectations from employers and are viewed as incompetent and have a lack of commitment (Getting a Job).
Consequently, this leads to lower possibilities of hiring, promotions, or raises. This view of women who have children is very discriminatory and outdated. This is known as the motherhood penalty. 40 percent of women are the primary source of income for their family according to the new data analysis from the U.S. Census Bureau. In this group of women there are two categories: 5.7 million (37%) married mothers who earn more than their husbands and 8.6 million (63%) are single mothers (Wang, Wendy, et al). While this is broad research of many professions, it does not take away from the fact that women have families to raise, the majority are single mothers, and a lower wage is not justified as assurance that she might take leave from work. The majority of people believe that women should not work full time when they have children. In these women’s cases that is not an option for the well-being and welfare of their family. According to the documentary Explained on Netflix, Iceland has taken drastic measures to close the gap. In 1987, parliament passed a bill increasing the amount of maternal paid leave from three months to six months. They noticed that that was not making much of a difference in the wage gap because it was still reinforcing the stereotypical gender roles of women and men. This lead to the decision of offering paternal paid leave in the year 2000.
Therefore, both mothers and fathers had the option, and somewhat a responsibility, of having 6 months paid leave for when their child was born. Men had a sense of responsibility in using their leave because it was on a “use it or lose it” basis. This positively impacted the wage gap because there was no bias in hiring, promotions, or raises because the possibility to be out due to children was now expected from both sexes. Iceland is the only country to come close to closing the gap. Women generally make ninety cents to every dollar a man makes. Negotiation In the workforce women are less likely to negotiate their starting salary. There is debate on whether it is a lack of confidence or the way women are treated when trying to negotiate. A study has shown that women are hesitant to ask for a salary raise because many want to avoid an awkward situation or confrontation. Fortune mentioned a study done in 2008 that found a $50,000 loss by the age of 60 (3 Reasons). Due to the discrimination woman face because of the motherhood penalty they can be unsuccessful when negotiating their wage. Negotiation is a skill in itself and anyone can acquire it. There are public events and workshops that one can enroll in. Conclusion This research project has lead me to conclude that there are many small factors that accumulate and come together and contribute to form the disadvantage of the wage gap. There are many skeptics of the wage gap, but the statistics show that it is real and is not moving until we do. Discrimination is the root of the problem here. Whether it be sexism, ageism, or racism, together we can bring awareness to close the gap. Nursing is not the only career field this affects, but that was my start in informing myself in the topic. As seen in Iceland, it is possible to close the gap sooner than projected if we pressure our elected officials to listen and take action. There is an annual holiday called Equal Pay Day to raise awareness of the wage gap. It is held on April 2 of every year. This represents the four months of the next year a woman would have to work to make what a man made the year before alone.