The Pay Gap- a Rude Reminder of it’s Existence Courtesy of a Sexist Doc

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As we were all so rudely were reminded today, by the now infamous sexist Dr. Gary Tigges, a pay gap exists in medicine just like in all other fields. Looking back on the history of medicine, and of the world, it’s not hard to see how we got there.
Medicine, like any other scholarly pursuit, was dominated by men for several hundred years. Modern medicine, in the 21st century, saw the spread of medical schools and the numbers of licensed physicians increase dramatically. Women lagged behind men for decades and decades, until just the last few years. In the US, the majority of people entering medical school are now women. We will continue to outpace men in the coming years.
So why is there still a pay gap? Just like in other fields, the answer is complex. It starts with the fact that women historically have entered lower paying specialties like pediatrics, family practice, and psychiatry. Men have domineered the specialties that pay higher- namely any specialty where procedures and surgeries are performed. Women have faced discrimination getting into these surgical and more lucrative specialties for years, thus amplifying the pay gap, and are only now in the last 5-10 years breaking into them in record numbers.
Even when women get into the specialty of their choice, they still make on average 27% less than their male counterparts (source Doximity survey), which amounts to over $100,000 less per year. The usual reasons apply here: being punished for taking time off to have children, being seen as less dedicated to their jobs, having to call off due to childcare or family emergencies, women who negotiate for higher salaries are viewed as abrasive or demanding, etc.
So how can we end the gender pay gap in medicine?
1. Compensate non-surgical specialties with higher wages. Medicine has become a culture where “pay for procedures” has dominated for years. Let’s value traditional medicine by increasing pay for those who practice the bread and butter of patients’ care.
2. Salary transparency. Contracts for payment are so cloaked in mystery that we often don’t know how much our colleagues make. It is frowned upon to discuss salary, which only allows men to continue to earn more.
3. Encourage, don’t dissuade women from negotiating. Offer other benefits than salary- like flexible scheduling or extra vacation days to incentive women.
4. Don’t apologize for our success or undervalue our worth. Own your accomplishments! Get rid of “I’m sorry” syndrome of perpetually apologizing.
5. Finally make paid family leave a reality!!!!! It is a stain on our country that we have not enacted this in the year 2018.
6. Imbed affordable childcare into all our hospitals and doctors office. Childcare is often expensive and can be unreliable, let’s make it a no-brainer by having it available in the workplace.
And last- but most importantly- speak up and speak out! Don’t let your voice be silenced and use your vote to elect candidates who prioritize closing the wage gap!

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