Nursing as a profession has been undervalued in both status and pay due to its highly feminised workforce, a recent study by researchers at the Oxford Brookes University has found.
The study, commissioned by the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) has found that the “old fashioned view that caring for others is a feminine characteristic” has contributed to the suppression of nurses’ wages and working conditions.
Dr Anne Laure Humbert, one of the report’s authors, said that, “despite the growing complexity and technical nature of the work, as well as the difficult emotional labour it entails… [the profession continues to be] deskilled and devalued”.
She provides the example of the fact that nurses “routinely take on tasks that have previously been the preserve of doctors,” yet continue to earn less than a third of that of doctors and dentists.
The study also provides a breakdown of the gender pay gap. It shows that, on average, women earn 17% less than men in similar positions. Further, nurses from an ethnic minority background tend to earn 10% less than their white colleagues, taking into account other factors.