Unequal pay

Women at all levels of academic medicine are paid less than men.

Women who hold top jobs at public medical schools earn about $70,000 to $80,000 less a year than men in comparable posts, Stanford and UC San Francisco researchers reported.

For a study of gender pay inequities in academic medicine, the researchers homed in on publicly available salary information from 29 public medical schools in 12 states and compared the average salaries in 2017 of 550 chairs of clinical departments, about one-sixth of whom were women.

The disparity remains, regardless of the women’s academic productivity, specialization and years on the job, according to a Stanford Medicine study published March 2 in JAMA Internal Medicine.

“They are skilled leaders, outstanding managers and experienced negotiators who have reached top positions in their medical schools,” said Eleni Linos, MD, a professor of dermatology at Stanford and co-senior author of the study.

Gender gaps in pay, she said, are often blamed on personal choices women make to cut back their work hours or leave the workforce, on their household and child-care responsibilities, or on suboptimal negotiating 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,” Linos said.

“Our study shows the pervasiveness of gender inequities at all levels of academic medicine.”