Equity in Healthcare - A Look at Women's Efforts and Retributions

Image Source: Unsplash.com

Feminist theory has been discussing the wage gap between the two sexes, as well as women’s misrepresentation in the workplace for decades now. Despite all the intense debates, these problems still exist in 2018. Even high-paying and indispensable fields such as medicine and healthcare battle this issue today, although we’d want to think they’d be the first to progress.

If you’ve been wondering about what the position most often filled by women in healthcare are, or even how much a female nurse earns on average, then you already know how complicated the discussion can get. Here is what you need to know about equity in the field through the lens of women’s efforts and retributions.

About Women Healthcare Aides

According to The Economist, the positions of health aide and nurse are two of the four jobs dominated by the female gender, alongside those of teacher and secretary. 80% of these occupations are held by women, which leaves the remained of 20% to men. The difference is considerable and quite visible as far as numbers are concerned.

For example, only 11.4% of the registered nurses across the territory of the United Kingdom are men, which means that women represent the remaining majority of 88.6%. Of course, this underlines a problem in itself, namely stereotyping and stigma. Have you ever seen a man disclose the fact that he is a healthcare aide to his male friends in a sitcom episode?

This joke scenario is thrown around all the time, and it usually has the same punchline. The registered nurse comes clean, and his friends mock him for not being masculine enough. This is a huge problem, and it is undoubtedly a bias that exists. However, this still doesn’t explain the inequity that exists at this level between men and women in the industry.

And we’re not talking about numbers from a demographic point of view here. We’re speaking financially. Did you know that, although women dominate the field, they are still grossly underpaid for their services? In the next section, we will explore the issue from the wage gap, as well as workload. So, what are the most notable differences? Let’s find out.

Workload and the Wage Gap

As far as the workload of women in the healthcare department goes, the situation is somewhat directly proportional. Female physicians work shorter hours each week due to the added responsibility of parenting and domestic labor. Because women are considered responsible for this in the household, many of them take time off of work to see to such matters.

Traditionally speaking, this is something men do not have to deal with or hear from their peers. A survey published by Reuters has revealed that there are higher chances for women working in healthcare to find themselves in the middle of a conflict between their work and their family life. From this point of view, we haven’t progressed that much since the 1950s.

This leads to more and more female medical professionals to cease their activity after pregnancy, which diminishes the already low numbers in the field. Thus, the outdated notion that women cannot be both nurturing mothers and successful in their field at the same time is deeply damaging to this facet of the healthcare industry.

Of course, the wage gap still very much exists as well. Data compiled from the last six National Sample Survey of Registered Nurses conducted quadrennially between 1988 and 2008 together with the American Community Surveys of 2001 through 2013 have established this. Although only 7% of the participants were men, their pay was considerably higher.

The gap for ambulatory care was a whopping 7,678 dollars, while for hospital settings it was of 3,873 dollars. These numbers are calculated yearly of course, but this doesn’t make them less significant or demonstrative. They are the testament of a worrying level of inequality that is institutionalized and hasn’t disappeared half a century ago with the Equal Pay Act.

This proves without any shred of doubt that the system is still very much flawed. The gender wage gap exists in nursing, and it spreads to even the highest paying fields on the job market. In this case, the discussion focuses on medicine. Even though it is one of the most prolific occupational domains in the world, inequity is still a problem in 2018.

The Bottom Line

Upon starting the discussion on the role and position of women in healthcare, concerning statistics come to light. In the field of nursing, the vast majority of professionals are qualified women. And yet, they are grossly underpaid when compared to their male counterparts. This still-existent wage gap permeates every single profession in the healthcare spectrum.

Still, it is prominent in the case of healthcare aides, where women lose thousands of dollars yearly to their male peers. Even though the year is 2018 and the fourth wave of feminism is on the rise, this issue still exists. What are more, women deal with having to balance work and family, while men hardly ever deal with such a problem?

So, what can be done? The solution is simple on paper, yet challenging to apply from a practical point of view. Women need to take a stand when negotiating their position in the workforce and demand to be seen and heard. But for this to entirely happen, a welcoming environment for this kind of empowerment has to be created. But is this a catch-22 situation? Only time will tell.

Written By
Jennifer Clarke is a financial advisor who has been in the health care industry for nearly 4 years. When she’s not working with numbers, she’s writing on her personal project, HealthCareSalariesGuide, a blog-type website that aims to give accurate depictions of health care salaries.