The Unhealthy State of Equal Pay for Women in Medicine Continues

A recent study in JAMA Internal Medicine confirms that women physicians still make less than their male counterparts.  We explored this issue in a previous post, and unfortunately little has changed.

The study in JAMA Internal medicine by Dr. Jena et al concludes:
“We analyzed sex differences in salary between male and female academic physicians at 24 US public medical schools using contemporary administrative salary data of state employees made publicly available online by state governments. After adjusting these analyses for physician age, years of experience, specialty, faculty rank, several measures of research productivity, and payments by Medicare (information obtained from a comprehensive database of US physicians), we found that annual salaries of female academic physicians were 8.0% ($19879) lower than those of male physicians. This difference represents 38.7% of the unadjusted difference in salary between men and women.

An accompanying editorial by Dr. Arora in the journal points out that “Although the profession of medicine achieved gender equity with equal representation in medical schools’ admissions, we are faced with one of the largest pay gaps between sexes among professionals. It is particularly alarming that the gender pay gap among physicians appears to be widening.”

In a New York Times article highlighting the survey  Dr. Molly Cooke, a professor of medicine at University of California, San Francisco comments that “It’s 2016, and yet in a very methodically strong, large study that covers a broad swath of the country, you’re still seeing at the very least a 10 percent difference in what men and women take home.”

The study found that the gender gap was greater in some disciplines than others. As the New York Times article summarizes, radiology is the only department where women are paid more.  The surgical specialties show the greatest gender variation.  “The average pay gap between female and male orthopedic surgeons was nearly $41,000. The difference was about $38,000 among oncologists and blood specialists, about $36,000 among obstetrician-gynecologists and $34,000 among cardiologists.”

As a union we believe that salaries should be transparent and openly negotiated.  While this would clearly not solve the problem it would go a long way to bringing the salary differences into the light.

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