Stop Selling Yourself Short Doctor
Women are still being paid less than men when doing the same kind of work. This is even true for doctors. A new study out of the University of Michigan and Duke University has put a number on the gender pay gap for top doctors, and it is around $12,000 per annum.
The study questioned 800 doctors. All the doctors surveyed had won competitive grants at the beginning of their careers. The grants were from one source, i.e. the U.S. National Institute of Health and this made the doctors all members of the same peer group in terms of motivation and underlying talent and therefore, good subjects for comparison.
All doctors are of course well paid. The average male salary is over $200,000, yet females take home about $168,000. Part of the inequality is explained by more men working in the relatively well paid specialties. For example, cardiology attracts premium salaries and more men than women are drawn to it. On the other hand, more women are attracted to the less rewarded fields such as pediatrics, obstetrics and gynecology.
However, even with these factors taken into consideration the gender pay gap for top doctors is still $12,000 a year and this means about $360,000 over a whole career. It is the equivalent of buying a house or putting a child through college. Clearly, the ladies of the medical profession need a little booster shot of feminism.
The female chief of preventive medicine at the prestigious Brigham and Women’s hospital feels the discrepancy can be put down to testosterone. She says, “Male faculty members are willing to negotiate more aggressively. It may be social and cultural. It seems to be fairly deep-rooted.”
The report’s lead author says that there is a myth around gender pay differences that says the differences can be easily explained away, and that makes it OK. A commonly cited explanation is that women earn less because they spend a lot of time away from their professions due to motherhood. However, the study found this explanation to be of little significance. Of course, some women take time out of their careers as doctors to have and care for children.
When they aren’t doctoring, they aren’t earning a doctor’s money right? So therefore this must be a big part of the cause of the gender pay difference right? WRONG! This study found that the pay gap persists for both female doctors with children and women doctors without. Motherhood is nowhere near as significant a factor as the choice of specialization, achievement of awards and career advancements. This central point is something all women doctors, and professional women in general, need to take account of when negotiating their reward packages.
The gender bias that makes male doctors better off than female ones is not an overt act of discrimination. In fact, it is probably totally unconscious according to the report’s authors. Rather it is psychological, and the report points to evidence from a key report of the US Academy of Sciences. This report shows that both sexes tend toward underestimating female work contributions and abilities.