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Pay Gap in Medicine: Female Doctors Deserve More

Unfortunately, the idea that women are paid less than their male counterparts is commonplace in the United States. This pay gap is present in entertainment, in technology, and even in medicine.

A new study done by Doximity, a social media platform for healthcare professionals, reports that women doctors typically earned an average of 27.7 percent less than their male counterparts last year. In earnings, this translates to the average woman doctor making about $105,000 less than a man doctor in a year.

Doximity’s statistics are based on a survey of 65,000 physicians. This was their second annual survey, which gives them the opportunity to compare the changes from year to year.

National data shows that pay for doctors in the United States increases by 4 percent every year, a significantly greater growth rate than the national number of 2.6 percent. Despite this growth, the Doximity test shows that the gender-based pay gap for doctors only widened with women making 26.5 percent less than men doctors in 2016 and 27.7 percent less in 2017.

The gap is also visible across various specialties including hematology, geriatrics, pediatrics and morethough it is often on varying levels. The largest gaps, which are in the 20 percent range, occur in fields such as hematology and urology, while slightly smaller gaps, in the 15 percent range, occur in geriatrics and pediatric cardiology.

Like most other pay gaps visible in America, the one in the medical field really doesn’t make sense. Because being a doctor requires very specific education and training, men and women in the field generally have the equivalent education, qualifications and experience which should in turn mean that they are entitled to the same wages.

“Even with the wage gap, medical specialists do earn much more than many other professions,” Kim Templeton, an orthopedic surgery professor at the University of Kansas Medical Center in Kansas City, told CNN. “But doctors also spend many years in training and incur significant school debt by the time they start practicing. And we never come off the clock.”

Despite this hard work, though, the pay gap in medicine is still quite present. Many people attribute it to the fact that women are “homemakers.” Though this is a very common excuse for pay gaps in all industries, it’s a very antiquated statement.

“I’m not honestly sure what causes the gap, but I would imagine it’s because we’re female,” Sofia Markotsis, a physician’s assistant who has been working in obstetrics, gynecology and women’s health for 25 years, said. “Years ago, obstetrics and gynecology was really just a man’s field because moms were home taking care of children and men had to work 24 hours a day delivering babies. Now, the majority of obstetricians that are being graduated are female.”

Just like with pay gaps in other fields, it’s difficult to prescribe a singular course of action to rectify the difference. One hope is that a shifting demographic and increase in confidence will help change the mindset of the medical field.

“We have to educate people in our own field, and I think women have to speak up a little bit more, which they have been,” Markotsis said. “I certainly see the change from years ago, when we didn’t speak up, and now we’re speaking up. That’s how we can change the mindset of our hire ups.”

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