3 reasons men are paid more in health IT jobs

The 2014 salary report from HealthITJobs.com confirmed what many of us suspected: men are paid more in health IT. The survey found a salary gap of more than $17,000. Men earned an average annual salary of $99,566.68, compared with $82,036.39 among women. Why are men paid more in health IT? Gender bias, whether intentional or […]

The 2014 salary report from HealthITJobs.com confirmed what many of us suspected: men are paid more in health IT.

The survey found a salary gap of more than $17,000. Men earned an average annual salary of $99,566.68, compared with $82,036.39 among women.

Why are men paid more in health IT? Gender bias, whether intentional or not, does a play a role, but there are other factors to consider. Looking at the data, here are some potential reasons why men are paid more in health IT:

Positions

Not all positions are created equal when it comes to pay. According to the HealthITJobs.com survey, job position is one of the top influencers of salary. Project managers earn the highest salaries, taking home an average annual salary of $111,648.73.

We don’t know if more men than women snag these top paying positions, but differences in the positions men and women hold could be playing a role in the gender gap. Case in point, among college-educated women surveyed by Pew Research, 71 percent felt obtaining top positions was easier for men.

Even if women do attain top paying positions, differences in starting salaries and raises could perpetuate the pay gap. Women in health IT reported annual average raises of 3.71 percent, compared with average raises of 4.3 percent among men, according to the 2014 US IT Salary Survey: Healthcare conducted by InformationWeek.

Experience

Experience in the field was one of the largest influencers of pay in the HealthITJobs.com survey. Those with health IT experience earned an average salary of $89,241.53, while those without experience earned an average of $54,237.98. The more years of experience a professional had, the more money they earned.

Does this mean women in the field are less experienced than their male colleagues? Not necessarily. But taking time off, cutting back hours, or taking career breaks to raise children can affect the overall amount of time women work, hurting their pay.

According to another report from Pew Research, women are much more likely than men to take time off to be caregivers. About 39 percent of women reported taking significant time off from work, 42 percent reduced their hours, and 27 percent quit work to care for a child or other family member. In comparison, just 24 percent of fathers reported taking a significant amount of time off to care for children or family members.

Certification

According to the HealthITJobs.com report, certifications also play a role in the salary of health IT professionals. On average, those with a certification earned about $13,000 more than those without one.

About 27 percent of staff and 30 percent of managers expect to receive more education or training this year, but only about 20 percent expected to be reimbursed by their employers, the InformationWeek report indicates.

Financing extra certifications may be difficult for women who are struggling to pay their pre-existing student loans. Although men and women pay about the same amount for their college education, women typically make less money after they graduate, making it harder to repay their loans. In 2009, one year after their college graduation, 47 percent of women were paying more than eight percent of their earnings toward student loans, compared with 39 percent of men.

It’s a vicious cycle. Women are initially paid less, making it harder for them to attain extra education that could help close the pay gap.

Although a gender gap does exist among health IT professionals, the field is making progress. Women in staff positions reported a base pay about three percent higher than their peers in other fields, the InformationWeek study found.

While the profession is stepping in the right direction, more should be done to ensure all workers are paid fairly.

What do you think is influencing the gender pay gap in healthcare IT? What  steps can we take to close it?

Tim Cannon is the vice president of product management and marketing at HealthITJobs.com, the largest free job search resource connecting busy health IT professionals with relevant opportunities in the health IT field with minimal effort. He is a 20-year veteran of internet marketing with technical expertise and a focus in search engine marketing, mobile applications & web analytics.

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