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Girls & Women

It’s 2016, and Female Doctors Are Paid Less Than Male Doctors

Wikipedia Commons / United States Marine Corps

Female doctors make $51,000 less than male doctors at public medical schools in the US, on average, according to a large new study examining pay.

When adjusted for salary influences like the amount of papers published and patients visited, the pay disparity drops to $20,000 — still a substantial amount.

The biggest pay differences are in orthopedic surgery, oncology, blood specialization, obstetrics-gynecology, and cardiology.

The study reviewed data from roughly 10,000 physician faculty members at 24 medical schools.

While this news doesn’t exactly come as a surprise, given that women traditionally earn less than their male counterparts, it’s especially troubling to see that even in the most supposedly meritocratic field — medicine — women are treated as inferior.  

Doctors have to go through years and years of schooling and residencies before they establish themselves. One would think this rigorous process would stamp out any gender bias along the way.

“What policies, procedures, leadership, or culture at these sites helps to counteract a gender pay gap?,” Dr. Vineet M. Arora wrote in an editorial accompanying the study. “Recognizing these factors could help to create a potential remedy that could be adopted and tested in the sites that experience the greatest disparity in income by sex.”

The problem of women being paid less than men for doing the same work covers nearly all careers.

In the US, women are paid 78 cents for every dollar men are paid.

Here’s a look at the careers with the largest pay gaps, according to Glassdoor:

Glassdoor pay inequality.jpg

Recently, the US women’s soccer team brought the issue to the public’s attention with a campaign called “Equal Play, Equal Pay,” because they are outrageously underpaid.

08USSOCCER-web-master675-v3.jpgImage: USWNT Player's Association

The issue has also been raised in Hollywood.

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Globally, the problem of wage disparity is the same. Women are paid less than men basically everywhere.

Pay differences globally.png

It’s important to state the obvious: There’s no justification for these pay differences. Women are just as qualified and capable as men and should be paid the same when working the same jobs.

Not doing so is unethical and has consequences that affect everyone.

First, wage disparities reinforce the idea that women are inferior to men, which allows sexism in all its forms to flourish around the world.

Second, lower pay and the disrespect that comes with this can discourage women from pursuing certain careers. Since women make up half of the world’s population, this can vastly reduce the availability of skilled workers in any given field.

Third, when women are denied fair wages, their potential to contribute to society diminishes. Across the world, women invest more in their communities than men do. Part of this stems from the fact that women are far more likely to raise children than men and, therefore, invest in the welfare of their kids.

Because of this, a compounding effect kicks in that reinforces cycles of poverty.

In the US — and around the world — women are more likely to live in poverty than men. If a child is raised in poverty, she will probably end up in poverty. Denying a woman in poverty fair pay makes it harder for her to escape and build a better life.

Pay differences also mean that women are less able to circulate money in local economies through purchases, start small businesses, and gain the independence needed to pursue a higher education or a different career.

It doesn’t take a brain surgeon to see that paying women equally would have profound and immediate benefits. But maybe ending the wage gaps in the medical field will help to end wage gaps everywhere.