Alaska’s health sector gender wage gap


Emily Boerger


While Alaska’s pre-pandemic recession saw the state’s gender wage gap decrease, as of 2019, women still earn 72 cents for every dollar earned by men. A wage gap exists for close to 80% of Alaska’s occupations, and at every age and level of education. 


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In the latest edition of the Alaska Dept. of Labor & Workforce Development’s “Alaska Economic Trends,” the department breaks down the state’s gender wage gap across multiple sectors. Overall, women represented 49% of Alaska’s workforce in 2019, but received just 40% of total wages. The average woman in Alaska made $37,643 during this time, while the average man made $52,477. The report states:

“[The average woman] was likely more educated than the average man, worked the same number of quarters, and earned 72 percent of what he did — an improvement by historical standards.”  

The most significant wage disparities are seen in male-dominated industries like carpentry, maintenance and repair workers, and transportation workers. Women make up 45% of chief executives in the state, but their earning ratio is 58%, meaning they make 58 cents for every dollar earned by men. 

Though not quite as disparate, a similar pattern in the wage gap is apparent in Alaska’s health and social services sector where nearly one in four working women are employed. 

In 2019, women accounted for 76% of all workers in the Health Care and Social Assistance sector, but received just 70% of total wages. About 51% of the state’s dentists are women, but they earn just 61 cents on the dollar. The earnings ratio for family medicine physicians is 76%, where men out-earn women by an average of $48,308. For all other physicians, the earnings ratio is 81%. 

For registered nurses, where women make up 87% of the workforce, women receive 87 cents for every dollar earned by men. 

The earnings ratio improves slightly for personal care aides at 88%. For medical assistants, the wage gap is minimal with women earning 99 cents for every dollar earned by men. The report states:

“Generally, the higher the percentage of women in an occupation, the smaller the wage gap. While wages are closer to equal, though, overall wages are lower in most of these jobs.” 

The department notes that during the state recession from 2015 to 2018, women’s average earnings grew from 67% of men’s to 71%, though that was more a result of men’s wages dipping during that time rather than women’s increasing. 

Preliminary data indicates that the pandemic has hit women’s earnings harder than men’s in Alaska, but the report states that comprehensive data on earnings during COVID by gender won’t be available for a few more months.