Pay gap between women, men may be greater in ophthalmology than other specialty groups
Median payments made to male ophthalmologists in Ontario, Canada, in 2018 were higher than the median payments made to female ophthalmologists, according to a report.
“In the literature, there are a lot of studies that have been done looking at the pay disparity between male and female physicians, but the counter argument has always just been that the females just work less and that is why they make less, or females tend to be younger,” co-author Tina Felfeli, MD, told Healio/OSN. “Even after accounting for some of these factors — we accounted for age and we accounted for the years the females are practicing and the productivity of the females — we still continued to see this gap in pay.”
Felfeli and colleagues collected data on physician payments in Ontario from 1992 to 2018. The main outcome was yearly median payments to ophthalmologists based on sex; age, number of unique patients, patient visits, visits per patient and full-time equivalent were used as covariates. Sex differences were then compared with other surgical, medical procedural and medical nonprocedural groups, according to the report.
The data set included 22,389 physicians comprised of 807 ophthalmologists, 6,291 surgical specialists, 1,906 medical procedural specialists and 13,385 medical nonprocedural specialists. In 2018, women represented 36% of physicians across all four groups. Median payments to men in full-time equivalent groups were higher than payments to women by 17% in ophthalmology, 12% in both surgical and medical nonprocedural groups, and 8% in medical procedural groups. Female ophthalmologists had a larger number of unique patients compared with male ophthalmologists.
“The trends identified suggest that female ophthalmologists are comparatively productive to male ophthalmologists, but despite this, disparity in median payments for female ophthalmologists exists and is more prominent than in any other specialty groups,” the authors wrote.
The study did not examine a detailed review of specific billings including examinations and procedures, but this can be considered in the future, the authors wrote.