Well, Ellen Pompeo, who plays the most famous female doctor on TV on Grey’s Anatomy, may be making more money than all her male coworkers (though that took a few years), her real-life counterparts are not in the same situation.
A new report for Doximity found that female physicians made about 28% less than their male equals last year, which means this is worse than the national pay gap for all women. The average male doctor earns around $380,000 and his female colleague makes around $275,000 producing a $105,00 difference. The report was based on self-submitted survey responses from over 65,000 licensed U.S. doctors.
Charleston, S.C. leads the nation with a 37% difference in pay
Even worse, this wage gap is pervasive as it held strong in 40 different specialties and 50 metropolitan areas of the country but certain cities were definitely worse for female docs. Charleston, SC saw the biggest gap with women making 37% or $134,499 less than male doctors followed by Kansas City, Mo. and Nashville, Tenn. at 32%, and Providence, R.I. and Riverside, Calif., each at 31%.
The smallest gaps were seen in Detroit, Mich., and Sacramento, Calif. (both 23%) followed by Hartford, Conn. (22%), Rochester, N.Y. (21%) and Las Vegas (20% which comes out to $73,654.)
Women do tend to choose lower-paying specialties, but this discrepancy still exists in the more lucrative fields including plastic surgery. According to the report, specialties with the largest pay gaps (around 20%) included hematology, occupational medicine, and urology. Smaller gaps were seen in pediatric cardiology and geriatrics (15%.)
This is especially disappointing to note when a 2016 study from Harvard researchers found that female doctors who care for elderly hospitalized patients were less likely to see their patients die or have to come back to the hospital after being discharged.
Other studies have found that female doctors tend to follow recommendations about prevention counseling than men and order more preventive tests. In other words, seeing a female doctor may actually help you live longer and yet, they are paid less.
For the first time, more women than men enroll in medical school
On the plus side though 2017 was the first year the number of women enrolling in U.S. medical schools surpassed the number of men, according to data by the Association of American Medical Colleges. This study could also be helpful as there is not a lot of transparency when it comes to physician salaries.
“Unlike other industries, the medical profession doesn’t openly reveal or discuss salaries,” said Dr. Amit Phull, Doximity’s vice president of strategy and insights. “If physicians know how much their peers are making, it will give them better leverage to negotiate their pay. We want this report to provide some transparency.”
It will take time to close this gap, which we also see with female physicians in private practice, but there is power in numbers.