It’s no big secret that the pay gap affects pretty much every industry in the United States. In fact, in general, women make 84 cents on the male dollar. And when you look at women in the and healthcare industry, there is no specialty where women make as much as men. In a survey of 400 female physicians, 96% said they believe gender discrimination still exists.
A prime example? The field of endocrinology.
According to the Medscape Endocrinologist Compensation Report 2018, male endocrinologists earn an average salary of $233,000. Compare that with the $184,000 earned by female endocrinologists and the gap is crystal clear.
But why the disparity?
That’s complicated. But here are the 3 most common explanations for the gender pay gap—and the reasons they aren’t so cut and dry.
- Women are less likely to speak up for themselves when it comes to raises and promotions.
Interestingly enough, research shows that women do speak up for themselves—and when they do, they are liked less, deemed less valuable and are, therefore, less influential. And, when they do negotiate, women receive lower offers than men.
- Women leave the workforce to have and raise children, and put caretaking duties before working.
Actually, contrary to popular belief, women are the primary earners in 44% of families. And more than 75% of single mothers are primary earners. Of first time pregnant mothers, 66% work during their pregnancy, and 88% of those work through the third trimester.
- Women don’t have as much education or experience as men.
Wrong. Women hold the majority of undergraduate, master’s and doctoral degrees. And, the wage gap increases as women advance in their careers, with the largest wage gaps at the executive level.
So how do we bridge the gap?
- Identify and tear down barriers. How? Start by conducting focus groups with women. Figure out what and where the barriers are, and then dedicate initiatives to systematically break them down.
- Provide equal opportunity for growth. Pay attention to who is getting facetime with influencers. Women should be given the same access to key players in the organization as men.
- Commit to a culture of work/life balance. Maternity and paternity leave should not only be provided, but promoted. And gone are the days of rigid schedules. The future is flexible!
- Promote male allies. Men in positions of power can help mitigate the pay gap by ensuring their female employees are paid and promoted fairly and appropriately. This is a universal issue.
- Practice salary transparency. Discussing pay with colleagues or counterparts in the industry can help establish context for what sort of earning potential is available. And a transparent payment structure maps clear expectations and helps define clear growth paths.
Since endocrinology is predicted to become the most female-dominant subspecialty of internal medicine — and the gender pay gap is so significant — individuals in the field are in a perfect position to take a lead role in advocating for the support of female physicians. It’s time to stand up and fight to make a real difference.
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