Wide pay disparities found for physicians by gender, race

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According to a survey published Oct. 7, female physicians and scientists at medical schools across the country are paid substantially less than men of all races. 

The report analyzed data on wage compensation and demographics from 154 medical schools. It found that gender is the primary driving factor of pay inequality, with men consistently making more than women of the same race. Certain racial groups are paid less than their counterparts, though, and the small sample size of people of color in faculty positions also makes it hard to accurately analyze the effect. In most cases, though, white men have a higher median income than men of other races and all women.

"Our traditional way of compensating physicians and faculty inadvertently devalues women's contributions and monetizes men's," said Amy Gottlieb, MD, chief faculty development officer at Baystate Health and associate dean for faculty affairs at UMass Chan Medical School-Baystate, both based in Springfield, Mass. Female faculty members tend to spend more time in organizational roles, leaving them less time to work on projects that are more heavily weighted in compensation models, such as grant awards and research publication. 

To understand the extent of the disparity, Diana Lautenberger, director of faculty and staff research for the Association of American Medical Colleges, encouraged institutions to conduct their own salary audits. "Salary equity is really part of the overall approach to institutional equity and it has cultural and institutional benefits." she said. 

Dr. Gottlieb added, "The consequences of continuing to undervalue women's efforts could be considerable for their continued engagement and the future of our profession."

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