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Healthcare Reform > Is discrimination alive and well?

Studies show that female physicians STILL earn less than their male counterparts. What gives? Is it because some female physicians want more flexible schedules? Do women choose primary care versus specialties? Is it due to tenure and seniority?

An article in the L.A. Times sheds some light on this topic: http://lat.ms/f9b8QJ. So as the number of women practicing in the physician field continues to grow, their salaries still lag behind their male peers - what reasons do would you add to this article?

Nov 3 | Unregistered CommenterTodd T.

In Canada, majority of the physicians are compensated based on "fee-for-service" model. The renumeration received through the department of health, depends on the type of visit, and it's equal for both genders. In fact, Department of health was not even aware of the gender of the physician, when writing the check.Women are biologically predisposed to customary interruption in their work routine, through childbirth and breastfeeding. Consequently during those years, the amount of work they put in at the workplace and at home is forcefully divided (by the act of god).I rest my case.....

Nov 3 | Unregistered CommenterA. Salim

Not all women have children. Of those that do, many in the US take only 4 or 6 weeks off before returning to work. So this does not seem like the only reason.

I think it's important to ask how the income data were collected. Is this self report? W2 or 1099 data? 1040 data? Estimates from recruiting firms? MGMA data?

The study says: "Could the pay differential reflect the fact that more men have been in the profession longer and thus have more seniority, on average, than women? No, because the researchers limited their analysis to doctors who had just finished their residency or fellowship training and were about to start their first real jobs."

It is unlikely that very many women become pregnant in their first year of practice, so it's hard to see that as the primary reason.

The article also says: "The answer, they speculate, is that women are choosing lower-paying jobs on purpose because they offer greater flexibility in hours and are generally more family-friendly."

I think that's a stretch. it does not exclude discrimination.

Even if the reason is based on women taking more "family friendly" jobs, it still points to an overall assumption that women have more interest and responsibility for the "family" than men do. More of a societal issue than just in medicine.

I would like to know what these "lower paying" jobs ARE? Are they salaried jobs offering fewer hours? Are they private practice/job sharing opportunities in which part time partners simply bring home less money because they see fewer patients? OR are they jobs where women take lower salaries for the same work BECAUSE the job offers more flexibility. I think that choosing to work part time and therefore making less money is a different thing than having the "opportunity" to take a lower paying job just because it's more flexible and "family friendly". I suppose it could be argued that it isn't sex/gender discrimination either way because those options are open to men as well, so the pay for the same job is the same regardless of gender.

However, whatever the reason, other than pregnancy and breastfeeding (which many women still do, to some extent, even after they return to work), there are really no family duties that REQUIRE women to spend less time on them than men. Yes, women may be spending more time at home taking care of children but this is unpaid work which is often not recognized as being just as (or more) difficult than our "paid work". The discrminiation may not be at the level of the employer but in the expectations placed on women vs men. And that varies a lot from person to person and family to family. Very hard to quantify.

There are so many variables here to take into account. We would all like to be paid fairly and equally. Do we really need to continue to throw inflammatory words like "discrimination" around. My medical school class was a 50/50 gender split. I made, unfairly in my opinion, far less than a female radiation oncologist. We don't use the word discrimination here. Please, just put this issue to bed and focus your energy on trying to apply innovation and hard work to our badly suffering health care system and the patients it is supposed to serve.

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