A recent posting on KevinMD lamented the lower pay that female doctors make. Written by Dr. Linda Brodsky, it listed the following statistics: women make $0.62 for every dollar a male doctor makes. Women start their medical careers already in the hole by $17,000 compared to men. Mid-career female medical researchers make $12,000 a year less than their male counterparts. Her solutions to the problem are for women to understand their market values better and learn to negotiate a better contract.
While having sharp negotiating skills is valuable, I doubt that that alone will bring equality to female physicians' incomes. Here is what I see when people complain that women make less money than men.
The female doctors in our group have a predilection for calling in sick on the day they're supposed to take call. Then the male doctors, because we really don't have a choice, have to step in and take call for them. The after work plans we had made to be with our own families are discarded because somebody has to step up and take responsibility for patient care. It wouldn't be so bad except the favor is rarely returned.
Our female colleagues often seem to have an excuse to want to leave work early. Either their babysitter cannot stay after 5:00 PM or they have to attend the Women in Medicine Book Club and discuss Fifty Shades of Grey. Oh my! Thus cases are left hanging in the operating room for the men to pick up.
New female colleagues are always eager to start working. But lo and behold, many soon get pregnant shortly afterwards. Then they cannot work in rooms that are too strenuous, require exposure to X-rays like spine cases or interventional radiology, or last too long into the evening. On top of that, they expect to take a month off for maternity leave. Naturally the work load and call schedules then have to be covered by the guys to make sure the O.R. runs properly.
Even though they work fewer hours than their male comrades, they also want the same year end bonus that the men get. Is this the part where Dr. Brodsky's advice for better negotiating skills comes into play?
Call me sexist. Call me a chauvinist. You can even make oinking noises at my expense. I'm just calling it like I see it. Women make less money than men in medicine, but there are good reasons for that. And it has nothing to do with sex discrimination.