Gender Equity

take charge woman doctor-Daniel Dan by Pixaby

The Medical Society of DC has launched a Gender Equity Task Force to explore areas around equity in medicine in the District. The Task Force's work will include:

  • A compensation survey for DC physicians
  • Webinars and in-time programs on negotiating and compensation basics
  • Published resources to help build equity in healthcare facilities
  • And more.

See below for some of the task force's initial work. Want to give involved or partner with the task force in its work? Contact Pia Duryea.


Nationwide Data on Compensation Inequality

Despite the increased number of women physicians, there is a significant gender pay gap in medicine in nationwide surveys. Studies show that women physicians nationwide earn less than men despite controlling for variables such as race, ethnicity, and specialty.

According to a brief coauthored by DC Board of Medicine Chair Dr. Andrea  Anderson, across every racial/ethnic group, male physicians earned more than female physicians. The annual average income was $224,645 and average hourly compensation was $88.06. Regardless of racial/ethnic group, all male respondents earned above the average annual income, and all women respondents earned below average. Women physicians earn less than men whether they are in primary or specialty care, with women in primary care making the least of all physicians.

These disparities amplify and compound over time. A widely publicized study calculated that women physicians make $2 million less than men over their lifetime.

Physician mothers face further unique structural challenges. These include barriers to lactation in the workplace  and the disproportionate childcare burden that they face. A JAMA study found that women physicians “have the added difficulty of trying to find care outside typical hours such as nights and weekends, with only 8 percent of the center-based care providing nonstandard coverage.


Causes of Inequality

Pay transparency is seen as a way to highlight pay disparities and to close the gender gap. A LinkedIn study found that women are more open than men to sharing pay information. The Task Force discussed anecdotal reports of gender inequity for solo providers in reimbursement from payers.

Although pay transparency may facilitate equity, it is certainly not the only factor. Opportunities for advancement and promotion as well as work schedule flexibility, work-life balance, structural workplace policies, and skill development (such as contract negotiation) play an important role in overall compensation and career satisfaction.

The COVID-19 pandemic impacted women disproportionately compared to men, largely by shifting caretaking and homecare roles to women. Consequently, existing disparities were amplified with an increase in burnout. This led to an increase in women leaving the physician workforce during the pandemic. It is unclear whether that trend will continue beyond the pandemic and what will be the long-term impact of the pandemic on GE.