Dr. Andy

Reflections on medicine and biology among other things

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Women physicians earnings

are the subject of this study (apparently full text not on-line, how 90s is that?) in the Journal of Human Resources, reported here in the BMJ (where quotes are from)
Married women doctors in the United States earn 11% less than men and unmarried women without children . . . . They earn another 14% less if they have one child and 22% less if they have more than one child. . . .

The report says that women doctors are less likely to be married than men (80% of women and 89% of men). If they are married, women doctors are twice as likely to have a working spouse (94%) than their male counterparts (46%) and more than twice as likely to be married to another doctor (40% of women and 14% of men).

Sixty six per cent of women doctors and 79% of men doctors had children, and on average the women had fewer children than men.

Women also tend to seek specialties and jobs with fewer demands on time and more opportunity to balance career and family.
This is all consonant with my experience. I'd also point out that the study group was US physicians under 40, so the rates of marriage and child-bearing will probably go up.

I think it is unfortunate that women (and men) who want a balance of work and family (or outside life in general) are effectively excluded from certain specialties (e.g. general surgery). Maybe with the 80 hour work week requirement this will change.

The study concludes that differences are the results of married physicians and those with children choosing to work less rather than outright discrimination, but the BMJ article (I don't have access to full text either) doesn't say how they came to that conclusion; perhaps just based on the decreased hours working.

I do think that medicine remains an attractive career for women (and men) who want to work less than full time or more. It is easy for, say, a pediatrician to work half time, while an academic or investment banker has much less chance for reduced hours but similar work.


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