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Gender Wage Gap among Physicians

July 8th 2020

Some people say there is no gender wage gap. Comparing overall wages between males and females in America isn’t effective. Comparing pay across industries isn’t effective, either. All of that is comparing apples and oranges. If what’s being compared is apples and oranges, then there is some validity to the claim that there is no wage gap. However, after reviewing databases, annual surveys, and thousands of physician employment contracts; after accounting for geography, experience, and other factors; we know that there actually is a significant gap between what male and female physicians are paid.  It doesn’t matter if you are a Pediatrician or a Surgeon, a Pathologist or Hospitalist, you should be paid the same as your male counterpart.

Data on Gender Wage Gap

There’s ample data and many publications written on the discrepancies in pay between a male and a female physician. The annual MGMA survey of physician pay is just one source of that information.

The data supports that there are discrepancies between a male and a female position for the exact same job. There are significantly higher discrepancy rates in surgical specialties than in some other areas. Our experience reviewing thousands of physician employment contracts lines up with that data.  While the story of each situation is relevant and does matter, the statistical data is clear.

Different Pay Structures

There are nuances of how physicians get paid and how the structure can be very different for a similar job depending on the individual physician. Some might want to work fewer hours or to have more expensive benefits in return for a lower salary. Some may be more likely to be in a small private practice vs a larger corporate practice. Even others may appreciate a ‘family feel’ for the practice that has higher overhead and thus, less to pay the providers.  That’s all fine, and not what we’re referring to here.

Negotiate for Equal Pay

Obviously, it’s always important to make sure that you’re paid at your market rate. Females should negotiate to get the same rates as males. “Has anyone been paid higher?”  “How does compensation change over time?”  “Does it change for all in the same manner?”  There are many questions we feel can be asked by ALL physicians in all situations, regardless of male or female.  We feel that if a market supports a certain salary, whether it’s a male or a female, then the physician should get whatever that market rate is. If they’re providing a valuable service to a clinic or a hospital, they should get the most out of the proposition that they can.

Depending on the deal, of course, we encourage almost all of our clients to negotiate and ask for higher rates, whether it be through the signing bonus, through a base salary, through a production bonus, or something else. It is easy to get creative with structures!  There are many different ways to make up those gaps…if you have the right mindset and advisor. A female physician doesn’t have to settle for less than her male colleagues.

Contact us for a free 15-minute consultation to see if we can help you close the gap.