Female doctors make $56,000 less than male MDs

The Journal of the American Medical Association points out the wage gap, which has been getting wider over the years.

By Jason Notte Sep 5, 2013 9:07AM
Female medical doctor (© John Arborgast / Photodisc Red/Getty Images)It doesn't matter how often research finds that women basically work 59 days a year for free compared with their better-paid male counterparts or that they only make 82% of what men do for the same job. The refrain from critics is always the same: Show us the paychecks.

Senators Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., and Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., introduced legislation in January that would require employers to prove that differences in pay among workers are unrelated to gender or any other qualities unrelated to their employment. Plus, it would prevent companies from punishing workers who discuss salary information.

In a report that will add more fuel to such proposals, The Journal of the American Medical Association finds that female doctors make roughly $56,000 less than their male counterparts -- and that the gender pay gap is growing.

In the late 1980s, male physicians earned $33,840, or 20% more in annual salary than their female counterparts. By the late 2000s, that gap widened to 25.3%, or $56,019 per year. The same proved true among dentists and physician assistants.

The researchers weren't able to adjust for specialty, which is no small distinction where surgeons or radiologists earn significantly more than primary care providers. However, women account for more than half of the country’s pediatricians but fewer than 10% of orthopedic surgeons, according to data from the Association of American Medical Colleges.

That's not telling women anything they don't already know. A 2011 study from the Institute for Women's Policy research found that women, on average, make 82% of what their male counterparts make, while nearly half are either not allowed or are strongly discouraged by their employers from discussing pay information with co-workers.

According to the Democratic Policy and Communications Center, women make $434,000 less than men on average over the course of their careers. That starts right after college. Congress' joint economic committee says women make $7,600 less than men immediately following graduation. And it continues to the latter stages of their career, when Catalyst says women make up just 6.2% of top earners.

All of that just shoots through the system of the nonbelievers, who still want to see more evidence, even though most workplaces have rules preventing both employers and employees from divulging such details.

Those naysayers are correct in one regard: The gender gap is definitely closing, but the Institute for Women's Policy Research says it won't happen until 2056 at this rate.

Meanwhile, why doesn't everybody just pretend the problem doesn't exist? So what if one of the largest groups of medical professionals in the nation acknowledges it? Just be quiet, wait a few generations and all that inequity and lingering resentment will just disappear. But maybe not for female physicians.

More on moneyNOW

Sep 5, 2013 9:49AM

How can you call this an effective study when you don't account for specialty? 


My last two family doctors have been female doctors, but I have never had a female surgeon.  I have never been offered a female surgeon.  The two pay scales are not even close.  It is like comparing the pay of a CFO and a tax preparer for H&R Block.  Your specialty is your choice, so the women doctors are to blame here.

Sep 5, 2013 9:54AM
If they make $56,000 less, it's because many of them work less.  I personally know of 3 women doctors who all voluntarily work part-time now.  They are all around 40 yrs old, they all have multiple children, they all work in practices that have 6-10 docs, and they've made the choice to cut back on their work hours so they can be more involved with their families - good for them!  They are in the office 2-3 days a week.  Their male counterparts are there 5-6 days a week - of course they are going to make more money.

If you have a man and woman with the same experience, doing the same amount of work in the same position, they should obviously get paid the same, and in most cases, they do.  But to suggest that there's some kind of gender discrimination, because women make less than men over their entire working life, is ridiculous.

And now these idiot politicians want to add yet another regulatory burden to employers?  If this law passes, now employers, without being accused of anything, must submit evidence to prove that differences in compensation are related to something other than gender?  Give me a break!
Sep 5, 2013 11:33AM

I work with physicians and manage practices.  Female physicians are more likely to work fewer hours per week than their male counterparts due to family pressures.  Most physician contracts are comprised of a base salary and productivity incentive bonus.  In order to hit the incentive levels, a physician typically must have full time or full time plus "overtime" office hours in order to see enough patients each week to lock in incentive pay.  While female physicians are every bit as good as their male counterparts, many simply can't put in the hours necessary to make equal pay.


Typical MSN article based upon incomplete facts, most likely in a veiled attempt to show there is some "war on women" going on in medicine....

Sep 5, 2013 11:38AM
Without accounting for specialty or hours worked this article is meaningless. The high paid specialties are the surgical specialties which place extreme demands on the Doctor regarding training, time away from their family, quality of life etc. The low paid specialties usually have a higher quality of life such as Family Care and Emergency Room Physician but the Doctors keep a regular schedule and can have more time with their family and can often work part time. What percentage of women are drawn to these specialties versus the higher paid specialties? Without this type of inquiry any conclusions drawn are nonsense.
Sep 5, 2013 11:55AM
Once again Jason leaves out facts to support his biased opinion. Maybe if he supported the statements with comparisons of specialty and experience he could make an argument.

The way it is, he cherry picks his data to fake discrimination.
Sep 5, 2013 12:43PM
The article does not mention how MUCH each doctor works.. women tend to take more time off for family, maternity leave... etc. I'm sure if a man and a woman went head to head, same job title, same employer, same days and hours worked... there would probably be no damn difference at all. I'm sorry, but this gender wage gap is a load of crap... in every aspect. 
Sep 5, 2013 12:24PM
Just another righteous woman article in an economy devastated by falseness already. If the pay is that far off... quit, go start your own enterprise. Be sure your care is better so the masses stop going to the bad men places.
Sep 5, 2013 2:24PM
I am so sick and tired of another story about women not being treated as equals.  A woman in the US today with half a brain and a little drive has a better chance of succeeding than a guy. If you are a woman reading this I'm sure you will disagree, so please give a thumbs down.
Sep 5, 2013 1:29PM

First off: Not including specialties makes the whole study BUNK!

Also, Nobody ever factors in pregnancy and maternity leave days, or menstruation days (which I think is bs--sometimes I feel like **** and am in a foul mood too--but I still show up to work, many women take this as a free pass). Nobody ever mentions that men tend to take on more dangerous jobs which tend to pay more. Men also take more physically demanding jobs which, depending on the sector, also pay more. Nobody ever factors in that men, at least in my generation, tended to start working around 14-16 years old and women of the same generation often started working at 18-21; more experience = longer track record= more pay.

Are athletes counted-?...cause that's a no-brainer as is military pay grade (combat pay is higher--few women in combat roles).

What about sales jobs--women routinely do much better than men in sales related positions, are those factored in?

Finally--men are more direct and are way more likely to simply ask for a raise and are much more likely to start their own enterprise than women.

Factor in that stuff and THEN show us the numbers...

Sep 5, 2013 1:21PM

Income is often based on specialty. I am a male family medicine MD  but make less than my sister who is a surgeon. If a researcher says they can not determine the medical specialty ,they are not being honest. The  AMA has average income for all medical specialties.  Also men are more likely to start their own business than a women. My sister had her own practice and made more than the employed male surgeons .

Sep 5, 2013 2:04PM

"According to the Democratic Policy and Communications Center, women make $434,000 less than men on average over the course of their careers."


These studies don't take into account the time off women take for child bearing either.


Oh the horror!


Sep 5, 2013 1:04PM
If there is no adjustment for specialty, one can't call this research.
Sep 5, 2013 1:47PM

The top earners, by far are surgical subspecialties. These subspecialties can take up to NIne years Training after medical school, for a total train time of SEVENTEEN YEARS after High School, and 13 years after college.


As an MD, I trained for 9 years after College myself---I did a pediatrics internship before switching to psychiatry. The surgeons trainedharder, and work harder than I do now. I make $350K a year now---they deserve more. But, as a male, I work 60-70 hour weeks. I also am on call One day in Two, as i am a rural doc. 93% of psychiatrists are in big cities in the State I work in.

Sep 5, 2013 11:59AM
While most focus on the pay, we forget that it cost about 250,000 to get to the point of becoming a MD.
Most have to specialize to pay this loan back and we are becoming very short on the number we graduate. We need many more to cover those retiring.  I have a son finishing residency.
Hey, we can always get them from another country. 
Sep 5, 2013 12:47PM
Do I really have to explain it to you again? I can take those same numbers and come out with a different answer.
Sep 5, 2013 12:09PM
Female doctors are less likely to go into private practice.  Institutions pay less than what you would make in your own business.
Sep 5, 2013 12:05PM
I think many Dr. are getting out of private practice because of the cost, it is more beneficial in many ways just to belong to a large group or HMO. Maybe that is also why we see some part-time Dr.s
Sep 5, 2013 1:36PM
Great news! At last,  I just discovered a category in which men have the lead. It's a start. We're on a roll. Let's continue the momentum.
Sep 11, 2013 3:11PM

Most Americans would die to make what your crying about, but medical  care is about caring  NOT MONEY!   HA  HA    HA   ,          " GET IT"   not  about  MONEY. THAT'S  like courts are about  justice , and lawyers  only care about justice,  NOT  FEES.  STOP IT  YOUR MAKING ME LAUGH TOO HARD .   Ha-Ha-Ha.





Sep 6, 2013 3:48PM
Stop blaming men for everything. We are sick and tired of the constant demonization.
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