Women Work for Free: The Gender Pay Gap and Healthcare

18 April 2023 By Libby McCaughey

Within healthcare, where the gender pay gap is 14%, the average woman will work for free for 51 days of the year.

NHS England has a predominately female staff, with 68.5% of women making up the workforce. Despite this, andtaking into account all roles across the NHS including nurses, male staff are still being paid on average 14% more than their female counterparts.

It is important to note that this is not the same as saying women and men are being paid differently for doing the same job, as this would be an equal pay issue. Banding systems were introduced to try and help provide a clear pay structure within the NHS, but there is still a gender gap within these bands. 

Out of the 5 staff bands that make up 38% of all staff in the NHS – Managers, Senior Managers, Consultants, Nurses, Health Visitors, Midwives, and Ambulance Staff –all of the bands have a pay gap that slightly favours men. This ranges from 2.8% for Consultants, 3.8% for Midwives, 4.3% for Nurses and Health visitors, 5.9% for Ambulance staff, and 13.7% for Managers. 

Why is there a gender pay gap?

There are a number complex reasons for the existence of the gender pay gap with several main themes emerging:

Women and men do different jobs– Simply put, women and men focus on different career paths. For example, in the healthcare sector more women find a vocation in midwifery while more men opt for an ambulance staff role. As the statistics above show, the average pay varies depending on the career path chosen for men and women.

Women tend to pay a motherly and family penalty – women are more likely than men to cut down on work after having a baby. Some women leave the workplace all together, whilst others might come back part time. It is often a regular occurrence for those who wish to get their career back on track after becoming a mother that there is a loss of confidence, as well as missing out on valuable experience and training opportunities. 

Men hold more senior roles – Men tend to hold more senior roles in the healthcare sector, partly because women often take time off work to become mothers and are more likely to manage childcare responsibilities. This often results in men gaining valuable experience and knowledge that allows them to qualify for more senior roles, which typically come with higher pay. As a result, there are often more men than women in high-paid roles within the healthcare sector.

The healthcare structure – the overall medical work structure makes it difficult to combine motherhood with a career in medicine. The long, unpredictable hours combined with the huge amount of experience required means that it can take women up to 35 years to close the gender pay gap after having children, compared with 15 years for graduates in other professions. 

The gender pay gap in healthcare can be seen as quite large in comparison to other professions, but there are changes being made and put in place to help reduce it. 

What is being done to close the pay gap? 

In 2017, the NHS shared their Gender Pay Report which outlines what will be focused on to help close the gender pay gap. Their approach will focus on: 

  • Recruitment of women into more senior roles that were previously male dominated.

  • Offering more flexible working policies that will benefit existing and prospective employees, and focus on more couples taking up shared parental leave.

  • Introducing targeted mentoring and coaching programmes to address gender representation across the entire organisation.

These are extremely positive steps, and it is encouraging that the gender pay gap is finally being seen and addressed correctly. 

How can we help you with the gender pay gap in the healthcare sector? 

At Medical Staffing, we are committed to supporting you in overcoming the gender pay gap within the healthcare sector. Our team is dedicated to helping you find the best roles with competitive pay, so you can focus on your career goals without worrying about financial constraints. We offer a range of services that can help you achieve success, including:

  • Tailored job searches: We understand that finding the right role can be a challenge, especially when you have other responsibilities to juggle. That's why we work closely with you to understand your needs and preferences, so we can help you find roles that are a perfect fit for your lifestyle.

  • Competitive and reliable payments: You can rest assured that you will receive timely and accurate payments for your work, without having to worry about tax or self-assessments. Our rates are highly competitive, and we offer flexible shifts to help you boost your income.

  • Support for your career development: We are committed to helping you achieve your career goals, whether it's securing a permanent role or advancing your skills and knowledge. We take the time to understand your aspirations and help you find opportunities that will help you progress in your career.

If you're looking for support in overcoming the gender pay gap, don't hesitate to get in touch with our friendly team. We're always here to offer advice and guidance, and to help you find the roles that will help you achieve success.

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