A surprising new report finds that female physicians will earn $2.3 million less than male peers over the course of their lifetimes.
A shocking study by medical website Medscape, a division of WebMD, today reveals that the gender wage gap among physicians may be widening-fast. After surveying 15,000 doctors, researchers discovered that across all specialties women earn a median salary of $160,000, compared to men's $225,000. That's a difference of $65,000 a year, meaning female doctors earn just 71% as much as male doctors.
In the course of a 35-year career, female physicians will lose a total of $2.3 million on average.
The gap may be explained by several factors, including firm size, specialty type, hours worked and remaining discrimination.
According to the study, orthopedic surgeons and radiologists earn about $350,000 a year, while primary care physicians and pediatricians earn just $150,000 annually. Also on the lower side of the pay spectrum are psychiatry, emergency medicine and gynecology. Women likely take a hit in pay for choosing these lower-paying specialties, said Cornell University labor economics professor Francine Blau in a recent interview.
In Pictures: Top 10 Best-Paying Jobs For Women In 2011
Female physicians may also compromise salary by choosing smaller firms and opting for greater flexibility. Doctors in large firms with over 100 physicians on staff earn $23,000 more per year than those in small private practices, the researchers found. Moreover, women generally spend fewer hours seeing patients than men, and are twice as likely to spend less than 30 hours a week on patient care.
"The problem [of discrimination] hasn't gone away," AMWA President Eliza Lo Chin, M.D., told Medscape Medical News in February. "The gender equity gap is not closing. There's a lot of work to be done."
Women now earn nearly half of all medical degrees, but the compensation gap has increased in the last decade. A previous study published in Health Affairs, a health policy journal, discovered a widening pay gap even after controlling for variables such as medical specialty, patient care hours, practice type, location, and physician age.
Breaking News: Women Surpass Men In Advanced Degrees
According to the authors, in 2008 male physicians in New York who were straight out of residency programs earned $16,819 more than their female counterparts. In 1999, they out-earned women by only $3,600. The pay difference nearly quintupled in only nine years.
Leaders of AMWA argue that medical organizations believe they can "get women for less" and market their family-friendly work arrangements. AMWA fears that women may be giving too much away in an unfair trade-off, and says that when women do negotiate for higher salaries, they are often viewed as "demanding." Meanwhile, despite women now comprising one-third of all practicing physicians, just 12% of medical school deans and chairs are female.
The pay gap should not discourage women from entering the field, however. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) expects the health-care industry to add three million jobs by 2018. And among the hundreds of occupations tracked by the BLS each year, physicians and surgeons ranked as the No. 1 best-paid professions for women in 2010.See also:
Full Story: Female Doctors Face A $2.3 Million Wage Gap
The Best-Paying Jobs For Women In 2011
Is Lynn Tilton The Richest Self-Made Woman In America?
Why Men Say 'I Love You' First