A new nationwide study showed male doctors, across all medical specialties, make on average $90,000 more than their female counterparts.
No one would be surprised to learn that doctors in Seattle make good money — really good. But what might surprise you is how much more that doctor probably makes if he’s a guy.
A female physician in the Seattle area typically earns 27 percent less than her male counterpart, according to a new study of physicians’ compensation. Men average $335,000 a year compared with $245,000 for women — a $90,000 difference. These figures are averages for all specialties combined.
The study comes from Doximity, a networking site for health-care professionals, which surveyed more than 36,000 full-time, licensed physicians around the nation from 2014 to 2017.
Seattle’s pay gap may sound large — and it is — but it’s not exceptional. In fact, Seattle ranks just a fraction higher than the national average, which is a 26.5 percent difference in pay.
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Among the top 50 metropolitan areas in the U.S., the biggest gender wage gap for doctors is in Charlotte, North Carolina, at 33 percent, while the smallest is in Sacramento, California, at 19 percent. Nowhere in the United States do women match or out-earn men in the medical field.
The study controlled for a number of factors.
“A lot of things influence compensation, like how long you’ve been practicing medicine, which specialty you’re in, which region of the country you practice, and how many hours you work,” said report author Christopher Whaley, of the RAND Corp. and the University of California, Berkeley. “So we adjusted for all those underlying characteristics.”
“It’s surprising, even after all these adjustments, the pay gap is relatively large, even though these are all, by definition, very high-skilled workers,” he said.
The gender pay gap in medicine has sometimes been attributed to the fact that men tend to gravitate to higher-paying areas of practice, such as cardiology, while women are more likely to enter lower-paying areas, such as pediatrics.
But the study also examined compensation within 48 specialties and found the gender gap exists regardless of the area of practice.
“Across all specialties, nowhere are we able to find a case where women make more than men on average,” Whaley said.
Could it be that women aren’t as aggressive in negotiating their salaries? How much of it comes down to blatant sexism when hiring new physicians?
And another possible factor: While the study controlled for the number of hours worked, it did not consider the number of patients seen in that time. Research has shown women spend more time with patients, so they typically see fewer of them over the course of the day. That may mean they’re providing better care, but it also penalizes them financially.
The study did not look into the reasons behind the difference in compensation between men and women doctors. It only confirms its existence.
“We’re not trying to imply that there’s a particular cause for this,” Whaley said. “Our hope is that this will encourages others to dig into the data further, and to perform other studies and find what some of those causes may be.”