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View Diary: A political issue -- teacher pay (255 comments)

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  •  Great topic (none)
    First, on NM.  I lived in Roswell, no less, for several years.  I graduated from UNM's College of Nursing.  I love NM in many ways.  The poverty, lack of jobs, and huge public health issues are a real shame.

    Several years ago, I became burnt out from working in patient care administration and took a job as adjunct faculty at a local community college.  With a bachelor's degree in Nursing and an MBA I pulled in a whopping $14.00 an hour--to teach tomorrow's nurses how to take care of human beings.  That's about $28k annual, and about $4000 less than I could make working as a staff nurse in any hospital in the area (more about that in a minute).

    Let me pose a question. Holster those flamethrowers, I am only offering one point to consider and would like to hear what others think.

    I really don't know what the ratio of females:males is in teaching.  In Nursing, it's about 9:1.  Despite what I would call modest advances in Nursing salaries over the last decade, Nurses, on the whole are not much ahead of the salary figures discussed thus far for teachers.  

    Granted, it is possible to earn a very comfortable living as a nurse--I do.  To make that level of pay you have to take advantage of market forces.  That is, nurses often take jobs as pharmaceutical reps (the BIG $$$), auditors for insurance companies, or with personal injury law firms (we are especially good at spotting bullshit in a medical record) to earn a good salary.  Nurses who take care of patients at the bedside in hospitals, nursing homes, and at your child's school barely make more than teachers.  And this in an industry that actually earns a bottom line!

    Now for my question/theory:  Are salaries in these two noble, essential professions low because many people would stereotype these functions as feminine as evidenced by the predominence of women in both fields and the nurturing nature of both roles?  Sure, it may be shifting in both fields, but it is very slow in Nursing.

    We see studies all the time about how women are paid less than men for the same work.  I would offer that the closing of that gap that these studies seem to portray is primarily because of the larger number of women in corporate jobs raising the average/median.  Teachers and Nurses, possibly because of the predominence of women and the lower value that our society places on nurturing, still lag far behind whether you are a man or a woman.

    "It's been headed this way since the World began, when a vicious creature made the jump from Monkey to Man."--Elvis Costello

    by BigOkie on Sun Jul 03, 2005 at 10:04:09 AM PDT

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    •  short answer to your question is yes (none)
      historically both were viewed as "women's work" and the vast majority in both professions are still women.   That affects the pay.

      There are few localities that have turly examined comparable worth as a standard by which pay is awarded.   Fortunately there is a Federal equal pay law which means at least that it is no longer the case that a man and a woman doing the same work with the same experience get paid different amounts.

      Those who can, do. Those who can do more, TEACH!

      by teacherken on Sun Jul 03, 2005 at 10:07:32 AM PDT

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    •  games for men and boys (none)
      and "average" salaries for teachers
      will be inflated if the munificent pay
      of football coaches (almost always
      men, of course) is included -- at least
      it's that way in Texas high schools.
    •  One thing makes a BIG difference for RN's... (4.00)
      Collective bargaining.

      I work at a Boston teaching hospital that has been represented by the Massachusetts Nurses Association since 1974. Our pay scale, at every step, leads the region.

      Experienced staff nurses at my hospital can top $100k with night/weekend differentials.

      Other Boston hospitals try to keep pace to stay competitive on pay, but don't match other benefits, including formal grievance procedures and arbitration.

      I certainly agree with your assessment that nurses' pay, and teachers', is what it is because of gender. But I think that in the case of nurses in particular, that's gone hand in hand with the general lack of a collective voice.

      Though it was written in the late 70's, Jo Ann Ashley's "Hospitals, Paternalism, and the Role of the Nurse" is still the best account of the topic. Sadly, many of the hopes she had for the year 2000 did not come to pass.

      "...psychopaths have little difficulty infiltrating the domains of...politics, law enforcement, (and) government." Dr. Robert Hare

      by RubDMC on Sun Jul 03, 2005 at 01:47:12 PM PDT

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      •  PS (none)
        My wife is also a nurse who's spent most of her professional life in nursing education in diploma, AD, and baccalaureate settings as well as hospital staff development.

        She's got a doctorate, tenure, and 30 years experience - and makes 60% of what I earn at the bedside.

        And if people think that there's a nursing shortage (which most don't, but you klnow how critical it is), that's nothing compared to the shortage of qualified nursing faculty.

        "...psychopaths have little difficulty infiltrating the domains of...politics, law enforcement, (and) government." Dr. Robert Hare

        by RubDMC on Sun Jul 03, 2005 at 01:51:09 PM PDT

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