Gender Pay Gap Affects Most Medical Specialties, Persists Over Period of Time

Women earn significantly less than males in more than 90% of academic healthcare specialties, each when beginning their careers and 10 years later, according to a study published in JAMA Network Open.

The information recommend that the typical beginning salary for females in academic medicine is 10% reduced than the typical beginning salary for males. After a decade on the job, the typical salary for females is 9% reduced. 

“What’s new with this paper is the 10-year data, which was not available before and is sobering,” stated Narjust Duma, MD, of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Harvard Medical School in Boston, who was not involved in the study. 

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“We already know there are discrepancies at the moment of hiring, but women then tend to work twice as hard to get recognition, so my hope was that it was no longer there after 10 years. But the data shows that, in many cases, after 10 years, the pay discrepancies are even worse.”

Disparities in Starting Salary and Over Time 

The study integrated compensation information from 24,593 female and 29,886 male academic physicians across pediatric and adult subspecialties, each healthcare and surgical.

Overall, the beginning salary for females was a median of $26,800 reduced than the beginning salary for males. Women had a reduced beginning salary across 42 of the 45 subspecialties evaluated (93%). The typical beginning salary was $34,036 reduced for females in adult hematology/oncology and $14,270 reduced for females in pediatric hematology/oncology. 

The 3 subspecialties for which females earned more than males had been all in pediatrics — gastroenterology, nephrology, and rheumatology. The study authors noted that pediatric specialties are a traditionally reduced-paying region of medicine.

After a decade of working, females nonetheless tended to earn significantly less than males. Overall, the year-10 salary was a median of $22,890 reduced for females.

Year-10 salaries had been reduced for females in 43 of the 45 subspecialties (96%). The subspecialties in which females did not earn significantly less than males had been pediatric neurology and pediatric rheumatology. The typical year-10 salary was $6,683 reduced for females in pediatric hematology/oncology and $26,363 reduced for females in adult hematology/oncology. 

The subspecialty with the biggest spend disparity immediately after 10 years was adult neurosurgery, with males earning about $333,000 more annually than females. The gap favoring males exceeded $one hundred,000 annually, on typical, in adult cardiology and adult dermatology at 10 years. 

“Over the last few years, we’ve increasingly seen more objective data around all types of gender disparities in medicine, and this new paper contributes to that,” stated Pamela Kunz, MD, of Smilow Cancer Hospital and Yale Cancer Center in New Haven, Connecticut. 

“Objective data is helpful, but I think that many of us in this space are starting to ask, how much more data do we need? There’s clearly a problem, and I think we need to really pivot towards focusing on the solutions,” stated Dr Kunz, who was not involved in the study.

Closing the Gap: Potential Solutions

Two interventions that could aid close the gender spend gap are equalizing beginning salaries and equalizing annual salary development prices, according to the study authors. 

They identified that equalizing beginning salaries for the subspecialties in which females earned significantly less could improve women’s earning prospective by a median of $250,075. Equalizing annual salary development prices could improve a women’s earning prospective by a median of $53,661.

Dr Duma noted that some institutions currently equalize beginning salaries. “Even when starting salaries are equal, there are many ways in which these rules can be broken,” she stated. “For example, an institution may provide a signing bonus for a man and not for a woman, or more funding for research for men than women.” 

This report initially appeared on Cancer Therapy Advisor

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