A recent study of physician faculty of American medical schools found a gender pay gap of almost $20,000 a year.
The study was released on July 11 by the JAMA Internal Medicine medical journal. According to The New York Times, many past studies have found a pay gap in medicine, but this analysis included far more data and accounted for more variables than past examinations.
The study first collected data from more than 10,000 faculty physicians across 24 U.S. medical schools. Researchers discovered a difference in absolute pay between men and women of over $51,000.
Then, the researchers used multiple databases to control for factors that could influence income. The study accounted for elements like specialty, age, years of residency, grant history, number of works published and patient volume.
Once the researchers accounted to all the measured variables, they found a persistent pay gap of $19,878.
In an editorial published alongside the study, Dr. Vineet M. Arora, an associate professor of medicine at the University of Chicago, said the results were “alarming” because they suggest that the gender pay gap in medicine is widening over time.
She noted one of the most significant findings of the study: the pay gap varies widely across different institutions. In some medical schools, men and women are paid nearly the same, while in several others, men are consistently paid thousands more than the average.
“What policies, procedures, leadership or culture at these sites helps to counteract a gender pay gap?” she wrote, suggesting these methods could help solve the pay gap nationwide.
The study outlined several possible reasons for the persistent gender pay gap in medicine. Firstly, the authors say, women overall may be less productive physicians, due to a number of factors, like differences in mentorship opportunities, family responsibilities and “preferences on work life balance.”
Secondly, women who are equally as effective as their male counterparts may receive less recognition, negotiate salaries less often or less effectively, or be affected by overt discrimination.
The study had several possible shortcomings, according to The New York Times. Researchers were not able to obtain information about which professors were in tenure track positions, and the data may not have included all payments to physicians.