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Why Female Physicians Are Paid Less Than Their Male Colleagues [White Paper]

March 16, 2020

Why Female Physicians Are Paid Less Than Their Male Colleagues [White Paper]

By Phillip Miller


Medical education hit a new landmark in 2016 when, for the first time, the number of female students entering U.S. medical schools exceeded the number of males.


The number of women entering the medical field has been growing for decades and now is readily apparent to anyone visiting a medical group or hospital. In 1990, 17% of all physicians in the U.S. were women. Today, that number stands at approximately 35%. If this trend continues, the majority of all physicians will be women sometime within the next two decades. Some specialties will be composed almost entirely of women, including obstetrics/gynecology, where 83% of residents now are women, and pediatrics, where 73% of residents now are women.


Despite these gains, female physicians still trail their male counterparts when it comes to compensation. A variety of surveys, including a survey conducted by Merritt Hawkins on behalf of MedChi: The Maryland State Medical Society, indicate that female physicians earn less compensation than males even when specialty and hours worked are accounted for.


Merritt Hawkins decided to explore this topic further by asking female physicians themselves why they believe women doctors are paid less than men. The resulting Survey of Women in Medicine revealed some important insights into the complex and elusive subject of gender pay disparities in medicine.  These findings are reviewed and analyzed in a new Merritt Hawkins’ white paper entitled Gender-Based Disparities in Medicine From the Perspective of Female Physicians.


The white paper explores the primary reasons female physicians identify for why they are paid less than males, the most consequential one being “unconscious employer bias.” It also tracks where in the compensation process gender-based pay disparities occur and how these disparities are viewed by female physicians based on specialty, gender and age.


The white paper provides a fresh slant on this topic by drawing on the experiences of female physicians themselves, and may be of interest to physicians, both female and male, policy makers, academics, journalists and others who follow physician workforce and compensation trends. Download your copy of the white paper here


Phillip Miller is Vice President of Communications for Merritt Hawkins and Staff Care, companies of AMN Healthcare. He can be reached at phil.miller@amnhealthcare.com.


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