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‘Nurses would be paid more if employers recognised their role as safety-critical’

Academic tells BBC Woman’s Hour about nursing’s gender pay gap and how male nurses get more than their fair share of top jobs

Academic tells BBC Woman’s Hour about nursing’s gender pay gap and how male nurses get more than their fair share of top jobs


Alison Leary spoke to Radio 4's Woman's Hour about the gender pay gap in nursing.

Understanding that nursing is a safety-critical occupation – akin to aviation for example – would help employers value nurses more, a leading academic said.

London South Bank University (LSBU) chair of workforce modelling Alison Leary made the point on BBC Radio 4's Woman's Hour, where she was discussing the results of her latest study on gender and pay.

Men climb the pay ladder quicker

Her study revealed that, despite nursing being a predominately female profession in the UK (89%), men have one in five of the best-paid jobs and reach higher pay grades faster than their female colleagues.

Professor Leary told Woman's Hour presenter Jenni Murray that employers should value part-time work more because many nurses who reduce their hours – often because of caring responsibilities – also have to accept a cut in pay.

'This is unacceptable,' she said, explaining that women will often accept less pay for better conditions.

Women accept pay cuts, but men don’t

In the LSBU study, researchers found no male nurses who had accepted a lower pay band to obtain their desired post, while women had done so in bands 6,7 and 8a.

Professor Leary added: 'Understanding [nursing] is a safety-critical occupation that is knowledge-intensive would help employers understand the value of registered nurses.'

She told the programme that the value of nurses is most often seen when they are absent, such as in the nurse shortage that contributed to the care scandal at the Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust.


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