Growth and Gender Politics: “Women Jobs” and “Women Wages”

Audiologists are on the low end of the pay scale compared to similar doctoring professions.  Independent of profession, women get paid less than men. The higher the educational level, the bigger the gender wage gap. Those are generalized facts from recent posts.  It doesn’t take a genius to figure out the next step in the analysis:  the Audiology profession is overwhelmingly female, which probably explains why our profession ranks low on the doctoring pay scale.  Let’s see if that supposition holds up when we throw data at it.  

Growth and Gender  

Ranks 3rd in Pay
Ranks 3rd in Pay:  $63K

 Click here to view a slide show of the 20 fastest growing professions for women.  Finally, Audiology makes a list, coming in #16.  Is this good or bad news?  It depends.  

We’ve already seen the inverse relationship between occupations’ growth and wage levels (Table 1, To Be or Not To Be).  Not surprisingly, most of the fastest growing occupations for women also make the fast-growing low-wage list.  Audiology is an exception:  it’s not one of the fastest growing occupations in general, but it is if you only consider women.  Men are not flocking to our field.

Editor’s query:  is it just me or does the picture above bother you too?  I mean, why is the Audiologist a MAN? 

Rank #1 for pay.
Ranks #1 in Pay

 

Gender and Wage

 

At # 16 Audiology is the only doctoral entry-level profession on the women’s list but not the highest paid.  Occupational Therapists get paid more, rank higher on occupational growth lists  (#20, male and female; #14, females), and only need a Master’s and a state license to practice.  

If you guessed Audiologists were second in earnings, think on.  Second highest paid and fifth in growth awards go to… wait for it ….  Dental Hygienists.  That  occupation  is composed almost exclusive of females who average $67.5K/year.  They do not need a Bachelor’s degree.  An Associate’s degree does the trick and there are no uniform requirements for state licensure.  Like their clients, I am speechless.  

dental hygienist 5th fastest growing profession for women

 

 Gender Segregation is a Choice

Table 1 cobbles together data from the Forbes list (shown in the pictures) and employment statistics from the Current Population Survey.  It’s a bit confusing, but the purpose is to demonstrate ongoing gender and wage asymmetry for the aforementioned occupations.  The Forbes data come from BLS data and estimates for 2008 to 2018.  These data (rows 2 and 3 in Table 1) show the proportion of females estimated to comprise these professions through 2018, along with the average wages described above.  

 

 

Audiologists

Occupational Therapists

Dental Hygienists

% Female (Feb 2012)

No data

94%

99.3%

% Female (2008-2018)

77.8%

81.7%

96.1%

Female Wage (2008-2018)

$63,000

$69,500

$67,500

Mean Wage (May 2012)

$72,990

$76,400

$70,700

 

Of interest is the comparison to “right now” survey data from CPS (rows 1 and 4).  The Audiologists sample in the survey is too small to yield a gender percentage, but there are more females right now in OT and dental hygiene than are predicted in coming years.  In other words, men are entering those occupations and I’ll bet it’s because the high wages are attractive.  Indeed, the average wage for all three occupations was higher in May 2012 than the female average wage is predicted to be over the 2008-2018 period.  Data are tricky and perhaps there is a better answer to why, but I’m sticking with gender gap to explain the difference until I hear otherwise.  For Audiologists, the gap is almost $10K/year for females versus the overall population of Audiologists.  Assuming a 20/80 split of males versus females in our field (as supported by AAA and ASHA stats), that works out to $108K/year for males versus $63,000 for females, if my algebra is right.  

More than most, our profession is heavy on females.  That’s why you see “no data” for the percentage of females in Audiology in the Table above.  The profession is very small compared to OTs and dental hygienists and the number of females is so high that it’s a problem for BLS to estimate with confidence.  They probably got an estimate of 100% female and questioned it, thinking that surely there is one male somewhere who is an Audiologist.  

Any way you slice it — big professions, doctoring professions, female segregated professions — women make less than men, especially if they’re in with a bunch of other women.  We’ll pursue that line of thought in the next post in this series.  

 



About Holly Hosford-Dunn

Holly Hosford-Dunn, PhD, graduated with a BA and MA in Communication Disorders from New Mexico State, completed a PhD in Hearing Sciences at Stanford, and did post-docs at Max Planck Institute (Germany) and Eaton-Peabody Auditory Physiology Lab (Boston). Post-education, she directed the Stanford University Audiology Clinic; developed multi-office private practices in Arizona; authored/edited numerous text books, chapters, journals, and articles; and taught Marketing, Practice Management, Hearing Science, Auditory Electrophysiology, and Amplification in a variety of academic settings.

3 Comments

  1. I guess one way to get men interested in audiology is to tell them that the salary statistics are all wrong and they should be making more than $100k/year… Maybe that would fix the gender gap problem in the profession ; )

    Although I don’t think the women would appreciate us promoting those statistics.

  2. 77% is a higher female ratio for audiologists than I even suspected.

    I’m a bit shocked that OTs are 94% female, I had no idea! I’m curious what the male to female ratio is for SLPs, I bet it’s at least 90/10.

    Very interesting.

  3. I have a feeling that one of the reasons aside from just gender disparity gaps in wages is that a lot of the men in the field may have been practicing longer since it sounds like so few are entering the profession today, and not to mention there’s probably less gender disparity in academia (where I assume men are better represented and often PhDs earn higher $).
    Most of the male AuDs I know that have been working 5-10 years are not making more than about $75k typically. Of course there are a couple that I know which are doing slightly better… maybe more men are also owners of practices–this could explain their higher wages..?

    At the end of the day, audiology needs to do a better job at recruiting men into the field. This will be pretty tough to do in light of the clear economic disadvantage of becoming an audiologist compared to other professions that require less schooling and have higher wages.

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