Advice for Female Physicians to Negotiate Higher Salaries

Sandra Levy


July 03, 2018

In This Article

Ask for Promotions and Challenging Opportunities

If you are not vying for senior leadership positions, there are early and mid-level leadership programs you may want to consider, such as the Association of American Medical Colleges Women in Medicine and Science early and mid-career professional development programs.

Executive coaching can also help women physicians advance in their careers to higher paying salaries, Grethlein says.

Many women physicians hesitate to apply for promotions likely to be higher-paying positions because they don't feel they meet all of the specified qualifications of the job announcement.

"Understand that you don't need to be an expert in every area listed on the announcement of a position — or a new position, if you are thinking about asking for a promotion. Many job functions are learned on the job. Most men have already figured this out. Find out what the criteria are for promotion; make sure that they are clear and that you are being given the resources to be able to accomplish this," Templeton urges.

Don't hesitate to negotiate for raises, more challenging opportunities, or equipment that you need to be productive. "People who raise their hands get these. Men do that more than women. Salaries often go hand in hand with the value of the projects you are working on," Laschever said.

If They Ask, Don't Tell Your Current Salary

If a prospective employer asks what you are currently earning, Rohr-Kirchgraber said your response should be, "My salary has nothing to do with the position I am applying for." If the employer persists on you providing a figure, provide a salary range instead.

Because many female physicians are earning less than men, if you tell them your salary, they may make an offer that is less than they were planning to offer. "If they (employers) know, she's only making $50,000, they think we should offer $55,000. If a man says $60,000, they won't offer him $55,000," Rohr-Kirchgraber said.

The minimum range you should ask for should be a higher number than the minimum you would accept. "If what you really want is $300,000 don't give them a range of $250,000 to $350,000. Start at $325,000 or $350,000 and maybe they'll pull it down to $300,000," Rohr-Kirchgraber said.

Survey findings by compensation software company Pay Scale that appeared in a recent Wall Street Journal article contradicted negotiations experts' advice about withholding salary history. The survey of more than 15,000 job applicants, from April to June, found that women who were asked about past wages but declined to reveal the information were offered 1.8% less than women who disclosed their salary history. However, men who refused to disclose prior compensation received 1.2% higher offers than men who provided the information.[3]

Recently, several states including California, Delaware, Massachusetts, Oregon, and Puerto Rico and cities including New York City, Philadelphia, and San Francisco have passed laws prohibiting nonprofit organizations and other employers from asking about or considering an applicant's salary history when making hiring decisions.[4]


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