New Study Finds a Large Gender Pay Gap at the Highest Levels of Academic Medicine

According to a new study from researchers at the medical schools of Stanford University, the University of California, San Francisco, Harvard University, and the University of Michigan, women’s salaries trailed men’s in a national survey of department chairs at public medical schools. Furthermore, the survey determined that the gender pay gap could not be explained by years on the job, medical speciality, or academic productivity.

The researchers surveyed publicly available salary information from 29 public medical schools in 12 states. They compared the average salaries in 2017 of 550 chairs of clinical departments. About one-sixth of the chairs were women. They found that women who chair clinical departments at public medical schools are paid an average of 88 cents for every dollar paid to their male counterparts, or about $70,000 to $80,000 less per year, according to the study.

Eleni Linos, a professor of dermatology at Stanford University and a co-author of the study, explains that “gender pay gaps are often blamed on women’s personal choices to reduce work hours or leave the workforce, household responsibilities, childcare or suboptimal negotiation skills. This study challenges these traditional explanations because our sample of medical department leaders have navigated these complex challenges and broken through the ‘glass ceiling.’ Yet they are still paid less than their male peers when controlling for many factors. Our study shows the pervasiveness of gender inequities at all levels of academic medicine.”

Dr. Linos also notes that when all other factors are accounted for such as region of the country, seniority, medical speciality etc., a significant pay gap remains. “This highlights a pervasive structural problem that needs to be addressed. Women are regularly paid less than men, even at the highest levels of academic medicine,” she said.

Dr. Linos is a graduate of the University of Cambridge in England. She earned her medical doctorate at the University of Oxford and a doctorate in public health from Harvard University.

The full study, “Sex Differences in Salaries of Department Chairs at Public Medical Schools,” was published on the website of the journal JAMA Internal Medicine. It may be accessed here.

Filed Under: Gender GapResearch/Study


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