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Study Shows an Increase in the Gender Pay Gap for US Doctors

A study published on Monday in the Journal of the American Medical Association shows that the gender pay gap for doctors has increased over the past few decades. Female doctors, accounting for one-third of US doctors, currently make $50,000 less per year than male doctors. The median annual income from 2006 to 2010 for female doctors was $165, 278 while male doctors made $221,297– a 25 percent difference in income.

From 1987 to 2010, researchers conducted a nationally-representative survey with questions about income and other aspects of work. About 6,300 doctors and 32,000 other healthcare workers were surveyed. Hours worked and years of experience were taken into account when analysing the data, but specialty and type of practice were not. Women are more likely to be in family medicine or pediatric care, while men are more likely to be in surgery and other higher-paid specialties. This gender difference in specialty, which could be affected by preference, discrimination, or both, may have a major impact on the income difference, so future research is warranted.

Dr. Anupam B. Jena, the study’s senior author from Harvard Medical School’s Department of Health Care Policy, said implicit biases could prevent women from entering higher-paying specialty fields. He told Reuters Health, “It could very well be the case that male and female pediatricians and male and female surgeons earn the same amount of money. But if it’s more difficult for females to enter surgery, then their access to higher-paying fields would be lower.”

Sources:

Bloomberg 9/2/2013; Washington Post 9/4/2013; Slate 9/3/2013; Reuters 9/3/2013