April 12, 2011, marks the day when women will earn the same amount men did for working from January 1, 2010. Women take nearly 16 months to earn what men earn in 12 months.
Even as women move into highly paid fields, their wages lag behind their male counterparts; medicine is no exception. Some surveys suggested that the difference came down to women's choices: lower-paying specialties, part-time hours, and other "life-style" issues. Time away to have babies and care for relatives would also slow growth of their earnings. We girly doctors were lucky to get paid at all, I guess.
Then this study came along:
This group examined starting salaries of newly trained physicians entering clinical practice in New York State, and found a wage gap as in every other study. By examining starting salary, they wanted to take leaves of absence out of the equation and look at the value of a freshly trained clinician. They then examined a whole bunch of variables to explain differences, including 45 different specialties, 8 different practice types, multiple locations characteristics, and expected hours of patient care per week. The gender gap in compensation persisted across all of these variables. They also looked at these data over time, from 1999 through 2008, and found that the wage gap widened, even as women became as likely as men to enter more lucrative, non-primary-care specialties.
The authors conclude that women may be working out employment arrangements that benefit them in non-financial ways beyond the scope of their data.
I conclude that women doctors often get a raw deal.
The Paycheck Fairness Act will be re-introduced in congress this week. Please let your representatives know that pay equity is not a luxury; it's just being fair.