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By Dr. Yvonne Sin
Originally published in: BCMJ
Gender pay gaps continue to exist in a multitude of professions, and medicine is not immune. As a female physician and a new mother, I am particularly interested and intrigued in this topic. How can I explain to women who enter medicine in the future that they may be paid less despite doing the same work as men, solely because of their gender?
More women are entering medicine than ever before. The entering class of UBC Medicine in 2016 was 53.8% women. Despite this, implicit gender-based biases still existed throughout my medical school and residency training. I can’t count the number of times I have been mistaken for a nurse while the male colleague is assumed to be the doctor. Or how many times I have heard offhand comments about a female colleague who had to miss a day of work to take care of a sick child.
Achieving a work-life balance is difficult, so it is not difficult to understand why female physicians may be drawn to certain specialties. Ultimately, we are all free to choose which specialty we pursue, but the gender pay gap is not explained only by the fact that female physicians may be more drawn to lower-paying specialties. The pay gap exists in higher-paying specialties as well.
Neither can the gender pay gap be explained by the fact that women work fewer hours than men. Despite adjusting for confounders such as the number of hours worked, age, or years in practice, male physicians still consistently earned more than female physicians.
Solutions to close the gender pay gap are complex. It will require change at many levels. There are several suggestions at both the individual and system level, such as advocating for pay transparency, improving parental leave programs, and encouraging women to take on leadership roles in medicine.
As more doors open for women in medicine, we should all strive for true equality. Ultimately, the question we should each be asking ourselves is not whether a gender pay gap exists in medicine, but what can I do to help close it?
Read the full article: https://bcmj.org/editorials/gender-pay-gap-medicine