Furthermore, the study of 486 healthcare professionals, found that 45% believe not enough is being done to get women into the top jobs, while 36% believe there is a glass ceiling for women in the NHS.
Wendy Irwin, diversity and equalities co-ordinator for the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) said: “This is an interesting report which highlights the extent of the structural discrimination against women in the labour market.
“It is absolutely vital that the NHS acts quickly to fully employ the skills of women and pay them fairly and transparently.”
The study also found that 23% of female nurses surveyed by Randstad said their employers’ attitudes were holding them back from applying for senior positions.
Meanwhile, over a third of female nurses (35%) also said a lack of confidence in their own abilities prevented them from going for senior positions.
Victoria Short, managing director at Randstad Care, said: “This week sees the beginning of the Royal College of Nursing Congress 2016 but, in terms of gender equality at the top, the sector hasn’t progressed much from when Florence Nightingale was alive.
“A lack of confidence is clearly holding back a significant number of female nurses from applying for senior roles, and in many cases this is almost certainly a result of the attitude of their employers — and the deep-rooted perception of a glass ceiling.
“The nursing sector, and by extension the wider healthcare profession, urgently needs to address these equality issues, or at the least the perception that they exist, or risk a mass exodus of female nursing talent.”