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What Is the Gender Pay Gap Among Medical Professionals?

What does the gender pay gap look like for medical professionals? Here’s the latest research about the gender pay gap and what you can do to help make it smaller.

The Current Gap Stats

The gender pay gap refers to a difference in salary between men and women who are performing the same job function. Even though they both have the same education, training, qualifications, and job position, a female doctor often receives less compensation than her male counterpart.

In 2019, male primary care physicians were making on average about 25% more than female primary care physicians, while male specialists were making about 33% more than female specialists.

Despite recent efforts to establish workforce equality between men and women, the annual physician compensation report from Doximity found that the gender pay gap grew from a 25% to a 28% disparity in 2020.

Why the Gap Exists

There are a variety of complex social and cultural reasons why the gender pay gap among medical professionals still persists today. A common criticism of recent research claims that salary comparisons are inaccurate because they do not account for experience, speciality, work location, etc. However, more in-depth research is finding that significant differences in salary for men and women still exist even after accounting for age, experience, specialty, faculty rank, measures of research productivity, and clinical revenue.

Dr. Gebhard, co-chair of the American Medical Women’s Association’s (AMWA) Gender Equality Task Force, recalled a salary negotiation lecture she helped host in which a woman raised her hand and claimed she was joining a faculty where everyone was paid the same. The entire room groaned. Dr. Gebhard concluded, “Clearly, women out there think everything is fair and people are paid the same. They don’t know they’re being paid less.”

What You Can Do

One of the best things you can do to close the gender pay gap is to make sure that you are aware of it. Stay up to date with the latest trends and look for opportunities to narrow the gap, such as:

  • Enhancing Salary Data — Work to have greater wage transparency within the medical industry by encouraging your clinics to publish salary data and be open with co-workers. Removing the taboo around talking about your salary can help medical professionals determine what a fair wage should be and will help keep employers accountable.
  • Opposite-Gender Mentoring — Mentoring from the opposite gender can help women be in positions for better opportunities. Their mentor can recommend them for positions and help them know what wage women should negotiate based on the mentor’s past experience. They can also share career advice and learning tips and share learning resources that they have found helpful. This sharing of knowledge will benefit both genders.


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