Women in Medicine: The Gender Pay Gap

Posted by Doximity TF Team

mature-female-doc_sPhysician gender impacts many issues in the medical world  not least, the physician recruiting industry.

We've mentioned this before but it bears repeating: in 2017 more women than men enrolled in U.S. medical schools for the first time (per Medscape).  

Medical training is grueling. It’s a long road paved with long hours, steep learning curves, and too little sleep. It’s also costly (being a doctor isn’t a fast track to wealth). The average medical-school graduate left campus in 2017 with more than $190,000 in student debt, per the Association of American Medical Colleges, who also reports that a medical student with no financial aid can pay more than $250,000 for medical school alone.

The hours, the sacrifices, the expenses…they’re the same for men and women. Yet in 2017 women physicians earned $105,000 less than their male counterparts, according to Doximity’s Second Annual Physician Compensation Report.

Nationally, there was a four percent increase in physician compensation between 2016 and 2017. Unfortunately, the physician gender pay gap also climbed to 27.7 percent. (In 2016, the average national gender gap among physicians was 26.5 percent less per year, and on average, female doctors made $91,284 less than what the average male doctor made.)

With a crisis for medical talent looming, a key factor in the market is physician compensation. With more women training, how do we ensure women remain in the medical profession? Fair compensation is a good start.

While physician compensation varies by medical specialty, there is no medical specialty where women earn more than men.

Physician compensation also trends across metropolitan area in the U.S., but in more than half of the 50 metro areas in the Doximity report the physician gender wage gap increased! The gender wage gap in absolute dollars ranged from $29,662 for Pediatric Infectious Disease to $118,014 for Neurosurgery. Generally, medical specialties where physicians earned higher salaries had larger gender wage gaps.

Physicians are working for employers, but the gender wage gap persists there too.  

As we reported in an earlier article, Modern Recruiting: Spotlight on Physician Employment, physician employment in the U.S. has historically been dominated by private practices. However, in 2016 the share of U.S. physicians who own their own practices dropped below 50 percent. The physician gender wage gap persists even when examining compensation by employment status.

The overall physician wage gap is exacerbated by a lack of female owned private practices.

Eighty-five percent of private practices – which have the highest compensation – are owned by male physicians. Of the women-owned practices, female owners still earn $97,227 less than male physician owners.

Nontraditional benefits like flexible work schedules can positively impact your recruitment of female physicians.

Most women doctors say they endure a bigger burden with home duties, so options that help them address the struggles of balancing their work and family responsibilities can go a long way. Beyond pay inequity women doctors face other challenges, including a greater risk of depression. We’ll be exploring more female-driven topics right here soon. In the meantime, check out our article: Women in Medicine Month: Recruiting Female Physicians with Flexibility.

We also recently conducted a survey of Doximity physicians to explore their recruiting and career preferences in the industry. We invite you to download the report here.


Topics: physician compensation trends, Doximity Physician Compensation report, recruiting female physicians, professional concerns of female physicians, impact of physician gender, women in medicine, physician gender pay gap

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