Friday, February 18, 2022

Gender-Based Pay Gaps Persist in Academic Medicine, Study Finds

Women in academic medicine have lower starting salaries than men in the vast majority of medical specialties, including psychiatry, a study in JAMA Network Open has found. The study also found that starting at a lower salary has repercussions on earning potential that extend nearly 10 years down the road.

Eva Catenaccio, M.D., of the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and colleagues used publicly available mean debt and compensation data from 54,479 full-time physicians in academic medicine from 2019 to 2020. The researchers examined the physicians’ starting salary, salary in the 10th year of employment, annual salary growth rate, and overall earning potential in the first 10 years of employment. The study included 45 subspecialties, including psychiatry.

Compared with men, women in academic medicine had lower starting salaries in 42 of 45 subspecialties and lower salaries at year 10 in 43 of 45 subspecialties. Furthermore, women had slower mean annual salary growth rates in 22 of the 45 subspecialties and lower earning potential in 43 of 45 subspecialties. Psychiatry is one of the medical specialties in which these pay gaps exist.

Among all physicians in the study, just a one-year delay in promotion from assistant to associate professor reduced women’s earning potential by a median of $26,042 over 10 years, and failure to be promoted at all reduced earning potential by a median of $218,724. By analyzing the data, the researchers predicted that equalizing starting salaries between men and women could increase women’s earning potential by a median of $250,075 over 10 years in the subspecialties for which starting salaries of women were lower than those of men. Similarly, equalizing annual salary growth rates could increase women’s earning potential by a median of $53,661 over 10 years in the specialties for which mean annual salary growth rates were lower for women than for men.

Catenaccio and colleagues noted research that suggests that starting salaries may differ between men and women because women do not negotiate as frequently or as successfully as men and that women who do try to negotiate often are penalized disproportionately.

“Medical school curricula and postgraduate training should better address negotiation skills and financial literacy,” they wrote. “However, the onus for ensuring salary equity should not fall on the individual candidate alone; rather, departmental and hospital leadership should take responsibility to ensure uniform starting salaries and prevent gender-based inequalities.”

For related information, see the Psychiatric News article “Gender Bias, Discrimination Common in Academic Psychiatry.”

(Image: iStock/byryo)

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