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compensation, equity, gender, pay



  1. Pollard, Prudence PhD, MPH, RD
  2. Taylor, Maxine EdD, RD
  3. Daher, Noha DrPH


The debate on compensation equity is broad-based, addressing many organizational, personal, and outcome factors. Central to compensation philosophy is the issue of gender equity. Health care, like many other industries, remains fraught with gender inequity in compensation. This inequity is partially explained by choice of practice area. However, much remains unexplained. Health care is a female-dominated industry with most of the women working in the allied health professions (eg, nurses, dietitians, etc). Registered dietitians (RD) may experience wage discrimination, similar to registered nurses, but prior to the present study, the assumption was not tested. Using data from the first comprehensive study of RD compensation, we examined gender equity in total cash compensation to RDs. Data were collected on total cash compensation, and questions focused on career progression and work outcomes. For purposes of our study, we analyzed data on 5,477 full-time RDs. Ninety-six percent were women, the median age was 43, and median total cash compensation for RDs employed in the position for at least 1 year was $45,500.00. Women earned $45,285.00 and men earned $50,250.00. A median wage gap of $4,965.00 between women and men was observed. Variability in total cash compensation to women was best explained by size of budget, years of experience, work setting, and educational level. Variability for men was explained by size of budget, years of experience, educational level, and employer status. Conclusions suggest that given the wage discrimination that female RDs experience, work organizations should evaluate their pay plans to monitor pay equity. Factors that women can manage to receive compensation that is equal to that of the men include size of budgets they manage, years of experience in the field, employer status, work setting, and educational level attained. Findings are useful for career advisers, human resource specialists, compensation specialists, supervisors, RDs, and compensation researchers.