Advice for Female Physicians to Negotiate Higher Salaries

Sandra Levy


July 03, 2018

In This Article

Many Women Don't Ask for More

Sara Laschever, coauthor of Women Don't Ask and Ask For It, and a negotiations expert, went one step further, saying that women simply do not negotiate for themselves as frequently as men and that when they do negotiate they tend to accept less.

A Glassdoor study found that 68% of women accepted the salary they were offered and did not negotiate, compared with 52% of men.[2]

Saura Fortin, MD, MBA, chief physician executive at Eskenazi Health Center Primary Care–Center of Excellence in Women's Health, and clinical assistant professor, Department of Family Medicine at Indiana University School of Medicine, is aware of male physicians who have gone back and forth four times with a counter offer. "When women are told, this is going to be your starting salary, they often take it. The best negotiators I have met will probably get back to them once and say, 'I want more,'" Fortin said.

Experts and physicians who teach negotiation skills have advice for female physicians that can help them negotiate higher salaries and better benefits.

Know What Both Gender Physicians Are Earning

Although salary is a very sensitive issue, it appears that some physicians are less secretive than they used to be when it comes to offering that information. According to a recent Medscape poll, almost one third (29%) of physicians have revealed their salary to another physician at their workplace, and one fifth (21%) have revealed this information to a physician outside of their workplace.

It may be worthwhile to ask male and female physicians with similar experience in your specialty what they are earning.

"Since women as a whole are paid less, if you compare yourself only to other women you will be comparing yourself to people who aren't getting everything that's possible, everything that the market will pay. Do your research," Laschever advises.

Try to ask diplomatically, and be prepared for people to decline sharing this information.

"I have observed that millennials seem much more comfortable openly comparing compensation," says Sara Jo Grethlein, MD, chief of the hematology and oncology service line at Indiana University Health Simon Cancer Center, in Indianapolis.


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