Gender inequality in UK nursing stuck in 19th century


  • Nearly a quarter of female nurses say employer attitudes hold them back from applying for senior positions
  • Meanwhile, over 8 in 10 female nurses haven’t asked for a pay rise in the past 3 years

The Royal College of Nursing Congress 2016 starts this week but, from a gender equality perspective, it may as well be 1816 – just a few years before the birth of Florence Nightingale – according to new research from recruitment company, Randstad.

Women make up nearly 90% of the UK’s nursing workforce and are paid an average 14% less than their male counterparts. Now, a new Randstad report, Assessing the Lack of Senior Opportunities for Women in Nursing, may finally reveal why women get paid less and occupy fewer senior positions:

  • Nearly a quarter (23%) of female nurses surveyed by Randstad said their employers’ attitudes were holding them back from applying for senior positions
  • Over a third of male and female nurses (36%) said they believe a glass ceiling still exists for female nursing professionals
  • Over a third of female nurses (35%) said a lack confidence in their own abilities prevented them from going for senior positions
  • Half of the male and female nurses surveyed (45%) said not enough was being done to encourage women into the top jobs within the sector

The Randstad research also found that an astonishing eight in ten (84%) female nurses had never asked for a pay rise.

Victoria Short, Managing Director, Randstad Care, commented:

“This week sees the beginning of the Royal College of Nursing Congress 2016 but, in terms of gender equality at the top, the sector hasn’t progressed much from when Florence Nightingale was alive.

“A lack of confidence is clearly holding back a significant number of female nurses from applying for senior roles, and in many cases this is almost certainly a result of the attitude of their employers — and the deep-rooted perception of a glass ceiling.

“The nursing sector, and by extension the wider healthcare profession, urgently needs to address these equality issues, or at the least the perception that they exist, or risk a mass exodus of female nursing talent.”
London, 15 June 2016



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