Confronting the Gender Gap in Nursing, EPS 149


In episode 149, Keith and Kevin are thrilled to be joined by new cohost, Elizabeth Scala, who will now be gracing the RNFM Radio airwaves at least several times per month. Elizabeth’s appearance today is very apropos, especially since the issue of gender disparity in terms of pay scales is in the news and heating up the Internet.

For those of you not aware of the hubbub, a recent study shows that, at this point in history, men are earning significantly more than women within the nursing profession, even though the nursing profession is 90% female. Outcries have sounded from every corner, and Keith, Kevin, and Elizabeth have a lot to say about this highly disturbing statistic that obviously needs to change.

An article on Kaiser Health News is well worth reading for their take on this issue, as is Elizabeth Scala’s opinion piece published over on Linked In Pulse. Another noteworthy article is located on the Huffington Post, and if you Google the subject of gender pay disparity in nursing, you’ll have no shortage of reading material to keep you awake at night.

Over the course of this passionate discussion, it’s pointed out that, anecdotally at least, men appear to side more quickly into leadership and management positions within the nursing profession, and Keith mentions that he would like to see research on this particular issue. And Elizabeth points out that, in terms of nursing specialties, men are most strongly represented in the nurse anesthetist realm, with 41% being male.

In terms of confronting this pay disparity, it is discussed that nurses and nursing students need to be instructed and mentored in skills related to salary negotiations and business savvy, something that doesn’t appear to happen in any nursing school or program.

Other questions that are raised for consideration and debate:

  • In what roles are men serving as nurses?
  • Do more male nurses have higher degrees?p
  • Are more men second-career nurses, thus bringing other skills or experience to the table?
  • Who is doing the hiring of these nurses? Are they themselves male?
  • Who is making decisions about promotions?
  • If more men are in management, are they preferentially elevating other men into positions of leadership?

Keith shares that even he was elevated to a supervisory position in his first year as a nurse, elevated into that position over LPNs with many years of experience under their belts.

Other questions remain:

  • Do we need systemic change, change within individual institutions, or a change in the individual negotiation skills and empowerment of nurses?
  • Can nursing professors can take it upon themselves to inform and mentor students to stand up for themselves and demand just pay?
  • What change can nursing leaders effect within their institutions?
  • Change can happen at the individual level by increasing nurses’ personal sense of value and self-worth?
  • If the Institute of Medicine (IOM) is so concerned with the future of nursing, why did their recent report that sent shockwaves through the nursing community not address the pay disparity issue?

Here on RNFM Radio, we’ve heard your request, and we’re doing our part by bringing a fresh female voice to the table so that our show more effectively represents you. While the show indeed does not have a 90% female population, we hope that having 33% of the hosting performed by a female will somewhat assuage the gender imbalance that we ourselves have noted for some time since the departure of Anna Morrison during our first year of broadcast.

Please let us know what you think, and your comments and opinions always matter to us!


You are amazing!

We want to thank each and every one of you for listening to the podcast.

It would be our honor if you would leave an honest review and rating on iTunes. They are incredibly helpful for us and we take all of your feedback seriously.

We encourage you to reach out to us via email or phone/text at: 720.466.3022 if you have any questions or comments.

Also, don’t forget that you can take us wherever you go by using the mobile apps listed here. If you liked this episode, or if you have any tips or suggestions, then please share and comment below.

Thank you, RNFM Radio Community!