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Where the Pay Gap Between Male and Female Doctors Is Biggest

On average, female doctors made $105,000 less than male doctors last year, and the gender pay gap actually increased.

Last year, for the first time ever, more women entered medical schools than men. But if a new survey is any indication, they probably won't make as much as their male colleagues.

On average, female doctors in America made $105,000 less than male doctors in 2017, which was an increase from 2016 when the gap was just $91,284.

In fact, male physicians make more than female physicians in every medical field, according to a survey from Doximity, a social networking tool for health care professionals. Depending on where you live, that gap could be a difference of more than $130,00.

The gender wage gap among doctors is the biggest in Charleston, S.C.; Kansas City, Mo.; Nashville; Providence, R.I.; and Riverside, Calif.

It's the smallest in Detroit; Hartford, Conn.; Las Vegas; Rochester, N.Y.; and Sacramento, Calif.


(Source: Doximity)

The pay gap can lead to feelings of frustration and burnout, says Theresa Rohr-Kirchgraber, former president of the American Medical Women’s Association.

“If you have half of the people in the profession leaving, there are significant consequences,” she says.

By 2030, the U.S. is expected to have a shortage of more than 100,000 doctors, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges.

The study didn’t look into the reasons why some cities had better or worse track records of paying women equally. But there may be some local cultural factors at play.

Las Vegas, for instance, has one of the smallest gender wage gaps. That may partially be because it has historically struggled with a physician shortage, so hospitals might offer more equitable pay in an effort to attract as many doctors as possible, says Mary Guinan, professor emeritus at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. 

Leaders of the American Medical Women’s Association say that the key to pay equity is transparency -- something the field has struggled with. And it's not likely to improve its transparency anytime soon since the Trump administration rolled back requirements for large companies to report what they pay employees by race and gender. 

New York state, however, has taken action to combat Trump's move. Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed an executive order in 2017 that requires any state contractor -- including providers that work with the state health department -- to disclose salary information to the state.

Roberta Gebhard, incoming president of the American Medical Women’s Association, says she’s lobbying the state to ensure that there's a consequence for hospitals that don’t comply with the New York law, such as having state funds withheld.

“If you start out with lower pay, over time, that’s compounded, and you can never catch up," she says. "Knowing other people’s salaries is how you assure equity."

*CORRECTION: A previous version of this mistakenly cited the 2016 average gender pay gap as 2017's.

Mattie covers all things health for Governing.

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