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76 Percent of Female Physicians Said They Have Experienced Gender Discrimination

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Around three-fourths of women physicians said they have been discriminated against because of their gender and believe men are paid more for the same position, a new survey from Dallas-based physician search firm Merritt Hawkins says. Unconscious employer discrimination and a lack of negotiating assertiveness are believed to be the main culprit.

“Women are entering medicine in record numbers and are having a profound impact on the medical profession,” said Travis Singleton, executive vice president of Merritt Hawkins via release. “However, despite these achievements, female physicians continue to be paid less than their male counterparts and face other forms of workplace discrimination.”

When it comes to gender discrimination, 76 percent of female physicians say they have been a victim, 75 percent of whom have been subject to inappropriate words and actions by fellow physicians. Over 40 percent of women have experienced sexual harassment, and 44 percent have sought a different practice setting because of the gender discrimination.

The survey showed that pay discrepancies begin early in physicians’ career. Around 40 percent of women said they receive less than the male counterparts in their specialty, and 73 percent said it was due to a lower base salary and bonuses. This means that women are most likely offered a lower base salary in the early stages of their career, and the salary difference continues as they progress.

Survey respondents said that much of the discrimination is unconscious, meaning that when someone with hiring power sees two resumes, their own biased views toward men and women physicians might impact their actions. In addition, over two-thirds of respondents said women are not as aggressive in the salary negotiation phase of the hire, resulting in lower salaries.

“Gender discrimination is more than just a challenge for individual doctors,” Singleton said via release.  “When it diminishes the overall supply of physicians, it becomes a matter of public health.”

Nationwide, 429 female physicians responded to Merritt Hawkins’ 2019 Survey of Women in Medicine.