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Female Doctors Earn Less Than Male Counterparts: Study

TUESDAY June 12, 2012 -- Male doctors in the United States make an average of $12,000 more per year than female doctors, a new study finds.

Researchers surveyed 800 doctors in the middle of their careers and found that the annual salary was about $200,000 for men and $168,000 for women, a difference of about $32,000.

When the researchers factored in medical specialty, male doctors made nearly $18,000 more. When the researchers adjusted for a range of factors, including work hours and productivity, they found that male doctors made $12,000 more.

During a 30-year career, a female doctor would make about $360,000 less than a similar male doctor, according to the researchers from the University of Michigan Health System in Ann Arbor and Duke University in Durham, N.C.

The study will appear June 13 in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The study participants had received a highly competitive early-career research grant from the National Institutes of Health between 2000 and 2003. The researchers focused on these doctors in order to have an extremely select, highly motivated and talented group of doctors involved in academic medicine.

"The gender pay disparity we found in this highly talented and select group of physicians was sobering," lead study author Dr. Reshma Jagsi, an associate professor of radiation oncology at the University of Michigan Medical School, said in a university news release.

"To see that men and women doing similar work are paid quite differently in this cream-of-the-crop sample is both surprising and disturbing," Jagsi added. "I hope these findings will help inform policy discussions on how to address these disparities and ensure equal pay for men and women who are performing equal work."

Conscious discrimination may not be the reason for this gender pay gap, said study senior author Dr. Peter Ubel, a professor at Duke University's Fuqua School of Business and Sanford School of Public Policy.

"For all we know, women are paid less in part because they don't negotiate as assertively as men, or because their spouse's jobs make it harder for them to entertain competing job offers," Ubel said in the news release.

"Nevertheless, whatever the reason for the salary disparity, academic medical centers should work to pay more fairly," he said. "A person's salary should not depend upon whether they have a Y chromosome."

More information

The U.S. Department of Labor has more about physicians and surgeons.

Posted: June 2012


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