September 19, 2012
1 min read

Female doctors’ pay lags behind men’s

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The latest survey of hourly pay by the United Kingdom’s Office of National Statistics found a 28.6% pay gap between male and female medical practitioners. Since 2000, trends in this pay gap have maintained 25%, on average, with no sizeable decreases.

In an article published online in the British Medical Journal, John Appleby, PhD, chief economist at the King’s Fund, said the pay gap remains largely unexplained. Appleby found that the pay gap among doctors is much wider compared with that of other medical professionals.

For example, the smallest pay bias toward men was among nursing auxiliaries and assistants, with women’s median hourly pay at 0.1% less than men’s. The pay gap widened among nurses to 1.9%.

“Not perfect, but good news for the largest [National Health Service] staff group,” Appleby wrote.

The pay gap between female and male paramedics (4.9%) and health service managers (5.8%) was eclipsed by that of female and male pharmacists (16%).

“Interestingly, female radiographers seem to earn 5.3% more than their male counterparts on average,” Appleby wrote.

Appleby cited a 2009 report from the British Medical Association that suggested some of the gendered differences in pay may be “legitimate,” explained by factors including work experience, type of medical specialty, grade and administrative duties.

“Nevertheless, a substantial part of the pay gap seemed to be unexplained by such factors,” he wrote.

The report also suggested that women were disadvantaged by assuming caring roles, working within a hostile culture and geographical limitations, reducing women’s ability to change jobs and increase their pay. Women in other occupations face these problems as well, Appleby wrote, but they may be more acute for female medical practitioners.

“Maybe there are lessons to be learned from some other health care professions ... where gender differences are closer to zero,” Appleby said.

Disclosure: Appleby reported no relevant financial disclosures.