Meeting NewsPerspective

Survey shows significant gender pay gap in gynecologic oncology

Katherine Croft, MD
Katherine Croft

Female gynecologic oncologists who work in academic settings make significantly less money than their male peers, according to survey results presented at the virtual Society of Gynecologic Oncology Annual Meeting on Women's Cancer.

Female gynecologic oncologists reported a median annual salary of $380,000, compared with $500,000 for men.

“The hope was for there to be no difference between male and female physician compensation, but it was not surprising that a significant difference was present,” Katherine Croft, MD, fellow in the department of obstetrics and gynecology at University of Virginia School of Medicine, told Healio.

Women represent approximately one-third of practicing physicians. Their salaries have lagged behind those of men, even after adjustment for years of experience, Croft said.

Prior data published by Association of American Medical Colleges revealed a pay gap based on sex in the broader field of obstetrics and gynecology, Croft said. She and colleagues conducted their study to assess whether a similar gap existed in gynecologic oncology.

Researchers sent an anonymous survey to Society of Gynecologic Oncology members to evaluate compensation of gynecologic oncologists by sex, stratified by practice setting. They used logistic regression modeling to determine contributors to odds of making at or above median salary.

Researchers obtained responses from 263 physicians (59% men). More than 97% of respondents reported full-time practice, and a greater proportion of women reported working in an academic institution (47% vs. 43%; P = .028). Men were more likely to respond to obstetrical emergencies (P = .04) and to receive compensation for extra call (P = .03).

Researchers observed no differences in group practice size, percent protected research time, frequency of call or geographic location between women and men surveyed.

Median salary reported for women was $380,000 vs. $500,000 for men, equating to a difference of $120,000 (95% CI, 84,706-169,103).

When the researchers adjusted for frequency of call and practice volume, they found a discrepancy in compensation only in the academic practice setting (P = .04). Moreover, more than 75% of female respondents who practice in an academic setting reported making below the median salary for gynecologic oncologists included in the survey.

Even after adjusting for age and years after fellowship, male sex remained a statistically significant contributor to compensation, with odds of making above the median salary of 1.54 (95% CI, 1.27-1.87).

“These findings suggest a signal of a discrepancy in gynecologic oncology compensation by gender, but additional data are necessary to confirm our findings,” Croft told Healio. “There is undoubtedly bias in the results because the study was based on a survey with a low response rate. There may also be nuances that were not queried and, therefore, not accounted for in regression modeling, and our findings do not shed light on how to change the current situation.”

Policy reform is required to ensure equitable compensation, Croft and colleagues concluded. – by Jennifer Southall

Reference:

Croft K, et al. Abstract 15. Presented at: Society of Gynecologic Cancer Annual Meeting; March 28-31, 2020 (virtual meeting).

Disclosures: Croft reports no relevant financial disclosures. Please see the abstract for all other authors’ relevant financial disclosures.

 

Katherine Croft, MD
Katherine Croft

Female gynecologic oncologists who work in academic settings make significantly less money than their male peers, according to survey results presented at the virtual Society of Gynecologic Oncology Annual Meeting on Women's Cancer.

Female gynecologic oncologists reported a median annual salary of $380,000, compared with $500,000 for men.

“The hope was for there to be no difference between male and female physician compensation, but it was not surprising that a significant difference was present,” Katherine Croft, MD, fellow in the department of obstetrics and gynecology at University of Virginia School of Medicine, told Healio.

Women represent approximately one-third of practicing physicians. Their salaries have lagged behind those of men, even after adjustment for years of experience, Croft said.

Prior data published by Association of American Medical Colleges revealed a pay gap based on sex in the broader field of obstetrics and gynecology, Croft said. She and colleagues conducted their study to assess whether a similar gap existed in gynecologic oncology.

Researchers sent an anonymous survey to Society of Gynecologic Oncology members to evaluate compensation of gynecologic oncologists by sex, stratified by practice setting. They used logistic regression modeling to determine contributors to odds of making at or above median salary.

Researchers obtained responses from 263 physicians (59% men). More than 97% of respondents reported full-time practice, and a greater proportion of women reported working in an academic institution (47% vs. 43%; P = .028). Men were more likely to respond to obstetrical emergencies (P = .04) and to receive compensation for extra call (P = .03).

Researchers observed no differences in group practice size, percent protected research time, frequency of call or geographic location between women and men surveyed.

Median salary reported for women was $380,000 vs. $500,000 for men, equating to a difference of $120,000 (95% CI, 84,706-169,103).

When the researchers adjusted for frequency of call and practice volume, they found a discrepancy in compensation only in the academic practice setting (P = .04). Moreover, more than 75% of female respondents who practice in an academic setting reported making below the median salary for gynecologic oncologists included in the survey.

Even after adjusting for age and years after fellowship, male sex remained a statistically significant contributor to compensation, with odds of making above the median salary of 1.54 (95% CI, 1.27-1.87).

“These findings suggest a signal of a discrepancy in gynecologic oncology compensation by gender, but additional data are necessary to confirm our findings,” Croft told Healio. “There is undoubtedly bias in the results because the study was based on a survey with a low response rate. There may also be nuances that were not queried and, therefore, not accounted for in regression modeling, and our findings do not shed light on how to change the current situation.”

Policy reform is required to ensure equitable compensation, Croft and colleagues concluded. – by Jennifer Southall

Reference:

Croft K, et al. Abstract 15. Presented at: Society of Gynecologic Cancer Annual Meeting; March 28-31, 2020 (virtual meeting).

Disclosures: Croft reports no relevant financial disclosures. Please see the abstract for all other authors’ relevant financial disclosures.

 

    Perspective
    Scott D. Richard

    Scott D. Richard

    The study by Croft and colleagues should serve as a significant eye-opener for gynecologic oncologists.

    During the past decade, the percentage of women going into gynecologic oncology has increased significantly. Currently, women account for 53% of Society of Gynecology Oncology membership, a number that will continue to rise. Croft and colleagues showed that the median gender pay gap among gynecologic oncologists is $120,000, favoring men. When adjusted for multiple factors, this discrepancy was noted only in academic practices, where 75% of female gynecologic oncologists made below the median salary.

    I find this alarming. The work of academic physicians, regardless of their gender, is no different. We are all expected to see patients, operate on them, round after surgery and provide them with chemotherapy. The time we spend with our patients and their families is from our passion in treating women’s cancers, not for financial compensation. Regardless, a significant difference in pay for doing the same job as a colleague of a different gender will likely increase fatigue, burnout and loss of job satisfaction. At a time when other professions have closed the pay gap, our field is maintaining a large gender discrepancy in compensation.

    The time has come for reform in how compensation is determined, especially across academic centers. Croft and colleagues should be applauded for their fantastic abstract, and hopefully it serves as a starting point toward providing physicians who treat gynecologic malignancy with fair and equal compensation, regardless of their gender.

    • Scott D. Richard, MD
    • Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center
      Thomas Jefferson University Hospital

    Disclosures: Richard reports no relevant financial disclosures.