TUESDAY, March 24, 2015 (HealthDay News) -- Male nurses in the United States make more than females, and the pay gap has not narrowed in 25 years, a new study finds.
The average difference is more than $5,000 a year across most settings and positions, the researchers found.
"The roles of RNs [registered nurses] are expanding with implementation of the Affordable Care Act and emphasis on team-based care delivery," Ulrike Muench, of the University of California, San Francisco, and colleagues wrote. "A salary gap by gender is especially important in nursing because this profession is the largest in health care and is predominantly female, affecting approximately 2.5 million women."
Researchers examined national data gathered from nearly 294,000 RNs between 1988 and 2013. Seven percent of the nurses were men.
The analysis showed that male RN salaries were higher than female RN salaries every year, with an overall annual difference of $5,148, according to a research letter published March 24 in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
The salary gap was $7,678 in ambulatory care and $3,873 in hospitals, the investigators found. The wage discrepancy -- found in all specialties except orthopedics -- ranged from $3,792 in chronic care to $6,034 in cardiology.
The researchers also found male-female RN salary gaps in different positions, such as middle management and nurse anesthetists.
Over a 30-year career, female RNs will have earned about $155,000 less than male RNs, Muench said.
"Given the large numbers of women employed in nursing, gender pay differences affect a sizable part of the population and their families," Muench explained in a university news release.
"These results may motivate nurse employers, including physicians, to examine their pay structures and act to eliminate inequities," she added.
The researchers pointed out that male-female salary gaps have narrowed in many other occupations since the Equal Pay Act of 1963.
The U.S. National Library of Medicine has more about health occupations.