Pay scales for female healthcare information technology workers have trailed those of male coworkers for the past 10 years, and in fact, the gap has widened over that period of time.

Data regularly gathered by the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society from 2006 to 2015, shows that women consistently earn about 20 percent less than men, no matter how data is analyzed.

In a new report issued yesterday, HIMSS said women responding to the biennial compensation survey earned 78 percent of the average male’s IT worker’s pay in 2015. That gap has widened since 2006, when the average woman’s IT worker’s salary was 80.7 percent of the average male’s pay, according to the HIMSS Longitudinal Gender Compensation Assessment.

The widening gap will make it more challenging for healthcare organizations in efforts to attract more workers—most obviously women—to an industry that is constantly in search of talent.

“To attract and retain talented women for the health IT workforce, we must demonstrate compensation equity for women and men,” said Carla Smith, executive vice president of HIMSS, and leader of the HIMSS North American business unit.

“This assessment shows that while we have much work to do, there are sectors of the industry where the gender gap is closing, clearly suggesting that gender equity in compensation is possible,” said Smith, who originally asked her own organization to analyze salary income earlier this year to assess pay equity between genders.

However, despite near-equity in the healthcare IT vendor segment of the industry, significant gaps exist between men’s and women’s pay, HIMSS found. It uses a web-based survey format to research salary data every two years; responses are self-reported, and respondents are assumed to be involved with or allied to the health IT industry.

From 2006 to 2015, the average male HIT worker’s salary grew by a compound annual growth rate of 1.16 percent, compared with a rate of 0.79 for women.

The pay gap by time in a current position has improved for those who have been in their positions for 10 or more years from 2006 to 2015, HIMSS data showed. But those women who have just begun their HIT careers are experiencing the largest pay differentials, data showed.

For example, women with less than one year in their position in 2015 received 72.1 percent of what men received; by contrast, women new to their jobs in 2006 received 83.2 percent of what men were paid.

For those with 10 to 14 years in a job, women received 82.6 percent of what men were paid in 2015, compared with 78.9 percent in 2006; for women with more than 15 years of experience in one job, they received 85.9 percent of what a man received with that length of tenure, compared with 77.7 percent of what a man received in 2006.

When assessing data by title, females consistently make less than their male peers, regardless of their title, and those gaps have generally widened over the 10 years of the study.

Outside of HIT vendors, providers have some of the largest disparities. For example, among hospital employers, women earned only 77.5 percent of what men earned, and that gap has not changed over the 10 years of the study. Women working at for-profit provider organizations showed the largest gap, with women earning only 67 percent of what men earned in that sector.

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