Female Doctors' Pay Still Falls Short -- Why?

Anne L. Finger, MA


May 15, 2015

In This Article

Women, Money, and Status

"Physician" remains one of the highest-paying careers in America. Even though there are large differences in average earnings among specialties, the profession still commands a very respectable income for most doctors.

But one area that is often debated is the difference in pay between male and female doctors. While some people blame discrimination, others cite choice of work hours, specialty, and other lifestyle factors that influence overall pay. Which camp is correct, or is there truth to both sides?

To wit, on April 14, 2015, which was Equal Pay Day nationally, a New York Times editorial stated: "The higher the level of education, the bigger the gap," adding that in 2014, women with advanced degrees earned about 74% of what men with similar education made.[1]

Those findings, representing all professions, are consistent with the results of the Medscape Physician Compensation Report 2015.[2] A bit of good news, however, is that it's an improvement over Medscape's findings in 2011—the gap has narrowed, compared with the income gap reported 4 years ago. (Unless otherwise noted, all figures in this article are from the 2015 Medscape report.)

Still, as the number of women entering medicine continues to increase, it's worth exploring the reasons behind the continuing disparities, which have implications not only for individual physicians but for our healthcare system as well.


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