Just Sick: Doctors’ Pay Gap

New women doctors make $16,819 less than men. And some say the pay gap is all in our heads.

Got some aspirin nearby? You’ll need it for this news. A just-released University of Illinois/Chicago report found that newly minted women doctors make a whopping $16,819 less than male  colleagues. Gee, that 16 grand might come in handy for paying back their med school loans. The report proves that gender wage discrimination can’t be explained   away by women doctors working fewer hours,  working in less demanding facilities, or choosing less demanding specialties (like pediatrics, which sounds like a breeze!).  Even worse, the gap is four times greater than the $3,600 wage gap for new doctors in 1999.

This latest finding is similar to the $25,000 pay gap between male and female law partners ‘discovered’  last June by the University of California Hastings College of the Law’s Project for Attorney Retention.  This report demolishes the tired, lazy charge that women ‘choose’ to make less because they prefer their cushy lifestyles of working part time and taking care of the kids. In fact, women put in the hours, take the tough specialties and pursue new clients.

What makes the difference, found the U of C researchers, is the willingness of male partners to subtly include male associates. Women didn’t get included, so “opportunity paths” were closed to them. This might explain the wage gap for women physicians, too….as could weaker negotiating skills or other hard-to-measure factors.

Let’s recap: women start out with less. They get less as they go along.  With lower lifetime earnings, they have less to live on, longer. And the Paycheck Fairness Act failed to pass the Senate last November.  If facts don’t sway policymakers to address gender pay inequities, maybe there’s another way. There is…and I’ll tell you about it shortly.


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