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Gender Pay Gap in Medicine: 6 Ways Female Doctors Can Counteract It

Author: Heather Blacksmith

Every year there are surveys and reports covering physician compensation. These reports reflect what holds true for most industries, especially healthcare.

The gender pay gap in the medical field affects every specialty and every region. According to Medscape’s report, male doctors make as much as 18% more than women, while male specialists make as much as 35% more than women, all for performing the same tasks.

Does The Gender Pay Gap Really Exist In Medicine?

Several studies from both the United States and the UK show that there is a genuine and noticeable disparity in the pay scales between male and female physicians within the same fields. These inequalities exist in both the academic and clinical environments with equal measure.

The tremendous pay gap between genders can lead to a loss of as much as $2.5 million dollars in earnings over the span of a 30-year-long medical career. Even when accounting for the age of the practitioner, their specialty or even the total number of hours worked, the gap remains quite large.

The Causes Of Gender Gap Disparities in Medicine

There are many different causes for gender gap disparities in medicine, but it is the myths that are most prevalent. Credentialing for physicians is touted as one of the top reasons for the differences in pay, but even women with more credentials than their male counterparts are often paid less for the same positions.

The real causes for the gap are the same as in every other field; double standards, implicit biases, and lack of compensation transparency.

Combating Inequalities in Pay in the Medical Field

Most female physicians are aware of and have experienced pay inequities. Thankfully, there are ways to work to combat them. As a woman in the medical field, it is important to be your own advocate in order to secure fair compensation. Here are a few tips we have that will help.

1 – Know Your Value

Before negotiating fair pay, it is important to be prepared. Research the current pay rates in the area and the specialty in which you work. Once you know the standard salary range, research what other doctors with your qualifications earn.

Do you have a dual degree? Perhaps you have real-world experience? All of these play a role in determining fair physician compensation during a contract negotiation.

2 – Starting a New Position

As a female physician, when starting a new job or just changing to a new position, make sure to negotiate the salary offer. Physician contract negotiation is the best opportunity for women to advocate their own fair pay.

It is both normal and expected for physicians in every niche to negotiate their contracts as part of the hiring process. If needed, hire a physician’s contract attorney to negotiate on your behalf to avoid any awkwardness down the line. 

3 – Get a Contract Review

It is important for female physicians to have their contracts professionally reviewed. This service is affordable and will ensure that the contract offered is favorable.

Most readymade physician contracts have terms that favor the employer while also limiting long-term earning potential. A contract review will allow for better terms to be negotiated that close the gender pay gap and improve the chances of better earnings over the life of a physician’s career.

4 – Use A Creative Approach

It is important to be your own advocate. One way to close the gender pay gap during contract negotiations is by being different. Men and women think differently and also practice medicine differently.

Bring your differences to the table. By approaching negotiations differently, there is a higher chance of getting a better outcome and better pay. Using comparative data and focusing on the greater good is a unique way to approach the topic of better pay. Men generally converse about their competence when asking for higher pay; however, women tend to fare better when they speak about how their skills will help the group.

5 – Know When to Ask For a Raise

Asking for a pay increase is difficult, and it can be hard to gauge when the best time is to do so. This is in line with the lower percentage of female physicians who actually negotiate their salaries before they are hired. One way to help limit the pay gap between genders in the workplace is by timing your raise increase request at the right time.

The best time for increases generally falls around the periods of the year when semi-annual reviews are performed. In the event that an employer expresses an overall positive level of feedback, consider using their feedback as leverage for equitable pay. Alternatively, you can time a pay raise request with professional milestones or extraordinary accomplishments. 

6 – Keep Your Current Pay Private

For those already working in the medical field who are considering changing employers, there is something to keep in mind. There is no reason or obligation to discuss your current rate of pay with your new potential employer.

Many potential employers will ask about a physician’s current rate of pay before making their own offers. While they have the right to ask, you also have the right to keep that information private. This will ensure that past lowball offers won’t play a role in your ability to demand equitable pay in your future positions.

Make the Most of Your Network

Networking is critical in any field, but even more so in the medical industry. Make the most of your network to ensure equitable treatment. Forming a strong professional relationship with seniors in the field will ensure that you have the right support to succeed. It will also give you resources that let you know how to navigate the system and get the most benefits from what’s available.

Getting the Pay You Deserve

Improvements in physicians’ pay for women have improved in recent years, but there is still more work to be done. Women face unique challenges working in the medical field, and equitable compensation happens to be one of them. Asking for wage transparency, advocating for fair compensation, and hiring experts are just a few ways to help close the gender pay gap. 

Author Bio: Heather Blacksmith has a Bachelor’s Degree in Finance and works at a finance firm based in Seattle, Washington. She specializes in small business finance, credit, law, and insurance. When she is not working, she spends her time in her favorite coffee shop writing on various finance-related topics. Other than that, she enjoys adult coloring books, recycling, and running.

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