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Women Doctors are Paid Less Than Men

A new study published in Health Affairs reports that female doctors fresh out of training are paid significantly less than their male counterparts.  The gender gap has been getting worse since 1999 and is now $16,819, up from $3,600 in 1999.   Readers, we are definitely going the wrong way here!  Women doctors are being paid less than men.

The widening pay gap cannot be attributed to the specialty they choose because the researchers controlled for that aspect.   Even when they account for specialty and hours and other factors, the gap remains.  The same gap exists for women in primary care as in other specialties.  Female heart surgeons were paid $27,103 less than males.  Female ENT doctors made $32,207 less than male doctors.  The women who specialized in pulmonary disease made a shocking $44,320 less than their male counterparts.

What about practice location?  It didn't matter...women were paid less than men.  Could it be that they work less hours?  Nope, even with the same hours, women were paid less than men.

We can only speculate why this is happening.  The most obvious answer is;  "Yes, there truly is gender pay discrimination."  No-one really wants to consider that or admit it but the facts seems to speak for themselves.   Other considerations are that women  fail to negotiate salaries as well as men.  That is a skill most women do not develop and most starting salaries are negotiated within a certain range.  Women may just accept the first (low-ball) offer made,  while their male counterparts would hold out for more.

Another thought is that women are trading pay for less call time or a better lifestyle.  I doubt that is the case because the authors controlled for hours worked.  Frankly this trend of gender difference in pay cannot readily be explained by any of these excuses.

I will be the first to admit that women have come a long way.  But this study is disheartening and shows we may be heading back in the wrong direction.


I'd like to think there is an explanation besides gender discrimination, but your post is persuasive. Wonder if this data and conclusions has been replicated elsewhere.
Toni Brayer, MD said…
Michael Kirsch,M.D.: Women earn 77¢ for every dollar earned by men in equal positions. Women earned less than men in all 20 industries and 25 occupation groups surveyed by the Census Bureau in 2007.

I have read a great deal of commentary on this physician study and I am amazed at the denial and excuses people are submitting...even though the authors have controlled for all of those factors.

The only excuse that makes some sense is that women don't bargain effectively and they sell themselves short. Same work-less pay.
tracy said…
Just so very awful!!!!!!!
Liz said…
I thought the struggle for equality in the workplace was a resolved issue. How in 2011 are women DOCTORS getting paid such significantly smaller salaries? This is disgusting.
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BrainDame said…
The gap is real, the gap exists. To think this issue no longer exists would be to have head in is better, much better in some aspects but pay has always lagged behind.
Thanks for highlighting this important study.
I have long thought that medical schools should offer education in business. Perhaps this would help women to bargain more effectively.
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