On Equal Pay and Salary Negotiation: Women Doctors Make Less

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After a  boatload of pre-med classes, four years of medical school, one year of internship and two years of residency (and the list goes on for specialized positions), a woman finally becomes a doctor.

But as institutionalized as the above path to the M.D. may appear, a recent study reveals that often, these qualifications just aren’t enough for women doctors. In fact, women doctors make approximately $12,000 less than their male counterparts.

And as the study proves, it’s simply because they are women.

The failure of the paycheck fairness act and the voice against wage fairness in professional tennis continue to surprise us. Nevertheless, the results from the Journal of the American Medical Association’s report are perhaps the most shocking, especially when we factor in the long periods of education and practice required to become a doctor.

The Journal reports that while male doctors make $12,000 more than female doctors with shared backgrounds in a given medical field (like pediatrics or radiology), this discrepancy is even wider when we don’t factor in these similarities. The New York Times says that male doctors across disciplines make $32,000 more than female doctors.

Dr. Reshma Jagsi, the associate professor at the University of Michigan Medical School who led the study, found the results as upsetting as we did. “The gender pay disparity we found in this highly talented and select group of physicians was disturbing,” she says.

Experts think they have an answer to this salary discrepancy: Female doctors negotiate for pay raises and promotions less frequently and less forcefully than male doctors.

While experts like Dr. Jagsi have some ideas that will push women to better negotiate their salaries (things like “greater transparency” and “standardizing the process of compensation and career advancement”), we know that ideas like these take time to implement. And we also know that salary negotiation is a widespread issue for women, one that extends far beyond the confines of hospitals, clinics and private practices.

For these reasons, check out everything you need to know about salary negotiation here. In the earning section of our brand-new Knowledge Center, we also have the questions you might be embarrassed to ask about negotiating, a checklist to get you set up at a new job and even our free Build Your Career Bootcamp.