A recent JAMA article showed that starting salaries for female physicians were lower than that of their male counterparts in most subspecialties.
New physicians are not expected to have many differentiating factors besides gender, yet the starting salaries differ. It is important to note that specialties with a higher percentage of women also have lower salaries for bother men and women. As the percentage of women physicians in a given subspecialty increase, the median salary for both men and women decreases.
What are the possible solutions? All parties involved should be aware of these discrepancies.
Employers: You have an obligation to be fair and transparent.
The women physicians: You have an obligation to yourself. Know your fair market value and be familiar with compensation. You can look at benchmark data provided by the Medical Group Management Association.
Take the time to invest in yourself; it is the best investment you can make. Work to improve your communications, negotiation skills, and financial literacy skills. Think twice before accepting the first offer at face value; you owe it to yourself.
Have a contract lawyer review your contract. A number of factors go into a contract, more so than salary. Consider vacation time, CME time, the amount of call, noncompetes, partnership eligibility, and benefits.
Both parties: Have the discussion. Why is this? What can be done about it? Openly discuss and don’t shy away from difficult conversations.
Be the change maker.
Sharon McLaughlin is a surgeon.
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