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Gender Equality in the Athletic Training Profession

Posted May 29, 2019

By Mackenzie Simmons, ATC

Gender equality is defined as women and men having access to the same opportunities, responsibilities and rights within all areas of life – including aspects of home and work. According to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, in 2017, female full-time, year-round workers made only 80.5 cents for every dollar earned by men. This is a slight improvement from 2010, when women only earned 77 cents to every dollar earned by men. This information shows that the gap is slowly closing, but not nearly as quickly as it should. It may not come as a surprise then to learn that there is a salary gap in the field of athletic training, and that it mirrors the national salary gap.

According to a 2018 National Athletic Trainers’ Association (NATA) Salary Survey, female ATs continue to earn less than their male counterparts with a difference of $8,700 per year. The survey was completed by 9,545 Athletic Trainers (ATs), and the split between genders was fairly even, with females representing 55 percent and males representing 45 percent of the population. Though the executive summary stated that female ATs continue to earn less than male ATs by $8,700 per year, it also found that when compared with the 2016 NATA Salary Survey, female ATs salaries increased over $3,000 while male ATs salaries only increased $1,800. In general, several factors may be affecting the disparity between pay, including age, years of experience and inclusion of supervising duties in the job description. Other factors that could contribute to the pay difference include:

  • 69 percent of female ATs are young professionals (YPs), while only 46 percent of males are YPs.
  • 35 percent of female ATs have been in the profession for less than five years; in comparison, 22 percent of male ATs have been in the profession for less than 5 years
  • 25 percent of female ATs have supervisor duties, while 41 percent of males have supervisor duties

To help take it a step further, we will look at the salaries by education level. According to the salary survey, the average incomes for both genders are as follows:

Education

Average Income

Bachelor’s Degree

$52,010

Master’s Degree

$54,347

Doctorate Degree

$79,418

The table below shows the average salaries for females and males, sorted by level of education. There is a sizable difference between the salaries for male and female ATs at all education levels, though this could be due to some of the factors listed above.

Education

Female

Male

Bachelor’s Degree

$48,856

$54,977

Master’s Degree

$51,894

$63,746

Doctorate Degree

$75,249

$84,299

Next, we will look at the varying salaries by position or work setting by gender. The average age for each population was not included in the data, which could be a factor in the salaries for each gender. The table below reflects the data that was found in the 2018 NATA Salary Survey along with the sample size of each section.

Position/Setting

Female Average Salary

Male Average Salary

YPs

$43,584 (n=1,222)

$43,539 (n=647)

Secondary School

$52,528 (n=895)

$58,367 (n=702)

Professional Sports

$58,105 (n=19)

$117, 928 (n=126)

Higher Education

$70,121 (n=320)

$77,702 (n=251)

College/University

$54,082 (n=1,423)

$62,164 (n=1,278)

In regard to the YPs section, it is important to note that 66 percent of the population was female, in comparison to 33 percent male (1 percent were not listed or prefered not to answer). The large difference between the number of ATs in each population could be an indication for the gap in salaries; this is also the only section where female ATs make more than male ATs. It is important to acknowledge that the salaries for both male and female YPs have decreased from the 2016 Salary Survey. It shows females have decreased by $1,295, and males by $3,508.

The secondary school ATs had a notable variation with females comprising 57 percent of the respondents and males comprising 43 percent. In higher education, the number of respondents between genders was similar to the aforementioned category with 56 percent being female and 44 percent being male. The biggest gender gap occurred between the professional sports ATs; males represented 86 percent of the population, while females only made up 13 percent (1 percent prefered not to answer). The lack of respondents for females in this category could contribute to the $50,000 decrease in salary from males to females, and the salaries could also vary by sport.

It is possible that female ATs experience inequality in other aspects beyond just salary. The Athletic Training community should strive to have gender equality in terms of opportunity, pay and benefits. The next NATA Salary Survey will be published in 2020, but the results from the previous years are all available on the NATA website. Compare the information from this blog to the 2016 results to see what strides our profession has made in the past two years. While progress has been made, this subject deserves more attention if we want to see true equality for our profession in the future.

References

Pay Equity & Discrimination. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://iwpr.org/issue/employment-education-economic-change/pay-equity-discrimination/

Salary Survey. (2019, February 18). Retrieved from https://www.nata.org/career-education/career-center/salary-survey

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