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Gender Gap Persists in Pay for Physician Researchers, Study Shows June 13, 2012

Posted by The Raise Project in Uncategorized.
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After adjusting for factors such as specialty and academic rank, the study found women were paid about $12,000 less on average than their male counterparts annually.

Ladies: Negotiate harder? Be more confident in your professional value? What’s the answer here?

Read the original here.

By Jie Jenny Zou

Female physician researchers are underpaid compared with men in the field, according to a study published Tuesday online in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

A survey conducted by the University of Michigan compared the current salaries of academic researchers who were granted prestigious National Institutes of Health K08 or K23 awards from 2000 to 2003. After adjusting for factors such as specialty and academic rank, the study found women were paid about $12,000 less on average than their male counterparts annually.

“I think we weren’t expecting to find such a substantial, unexplained disparity,” says Dr. Reshma Jagsi, an associate professor of radiation oncology at Michigan. “It’s important to consider the role of unconscious gender bias.”

Jagsi says the purpose of limiting the study to “cream of the crop” of researchers was to avoid what she calls Larry Summers-type arguments. The former Harvard University president sparked uproar by suggesting in a 2005 speech that differences in aptitude might explain why there were fewer women in math and science. The NIH awards the competitive K08 and K23 grants to promising early career physicians pursuing research.

Out of the 800 study respondents, 247 were women, which accurately reflects the gender proportion of physician researchers, Jagsi says. The study controlled for over 30 different factors including hours worked, others grants secured, education level and number of publications.

“No economist is going to expect a study that is this narrow and controlled for this many factors to come up with a wage gap that is this big,” says Betsey Stevenson, a visiting economics professor at Princeton University who written papers on gender-gap policies. “It certainly tells us that are still some important reasons why women are paid less that aren’t simply about the choices that they’re making.”

Researchers found that choice of specialty accounted for some of the differences in salary. Women were more likely to work in sectors such as pediatrics that pay less than surgical positions and other specialties. They were also less likely to hold leadership positions than men.

Stevenson says the gender pay gap can result from several things including peer discrimination and differences between how men and women negotiate salaries and job benefits.

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