A new study found a wage gap in doctors' paychecks when it comes to both race and gender.
The study, led by a Harvard Medical School professor and published in the BMJ, found a disparity between the earnings of black and white male doctors, as well as between male and female physicians. The study examined two prior comprehensive salary surveys and found glaring disparities in physician compensation based on race and gender.
White male physicians in the U.S. earn substantially more than black male physicians, even after accounting for factors such as medical specialty, experience and hours worked, the study found. And while incomes of black and white female physicians are similar, when compared to their male counterparts, female physicians earned significantly less than either white or black male colleagues.
In one of the salary surveys studied, white male doctors had nearly a 35 percent greater median income than black males, with white males earning $253,042 compared to $188,230 for black males. The study revealed a major gender pay gap with the median annual income for white female physicians at $163,234 and at $152,784 for black female physicians.
The findings "highlight large disparities in income between white and black male physicians, and even larger disparities between male and female physicians," the authors said. Those disparities in earnings cannot be closed just by opening up opportunities for minorities and women in higher paying specialties, they said. Efforts to close the gap in income need to look beyond medical school admissions and training to the broader workplace, they said.
Possible explanations for the disparities include workplace discrimination, differences in negotiating pay and preferences in where people choose to work, the study's senior author Anupam Jena, M.D., of Harvard Medical School, told Reuters Health.