Gender gap exists in doctors' salaries, but experience and productivity play a part in disparity

A new survey finds that a gender gap does exist when it comes to physician salaries, but that choice of specialty, experience and productivity also play a part in the disparity.

A survey by the Medical Group Management Association (MGMA) confirms what other recent surveys also found: Male doctors make more than females. But the 2017 Physician Compensation and Production Survey found that age and productivity are contributing factors that impact the disparity.

“Our annual survey found that, in aggregate, gender disparity exists for physician compensation. Knowing what factors contribute to the gender pay gap help us better understand and interpret the cause,” said Halee Fischer-Wright, MGMA’s president and CEO.

The survey compared data from more than 120,000 providers across more than 6,600 medical groups and found the following factors influence salaries:

Specialty. Males across all specialty areas earn more than their female counterparts. For instance, males practicing in primary care reported earning 17% higher compensation. Male doctors in specialty care reported earning 37% more than women in the same practice area.

Experience. Years in a specialty area may play a role in the gap, the survey found. For instance, in family medicine and general pediatrics, male doctors earn more than 20% over females, but have an average of seven years more experience. With more women graduating from medical schools than men, women make up a greater percentage of doctors who are early in their career, the survey said.

Productivity. A doctor’s productivity, as measured by relative value units (RVUs), is a significant factor in compensation packages. Males in invasive-interventional cardiology earn more than 25% than female counterparts, but also show 42% greater median work RVUs. The difference may be due to the number of women in these specialties and their experience, the survey said.