Physicians, nurses among top 5 professions with the worst gender salary gaps

Medicine Money
Physicians and surgeons rank near the top of the list when it comes to the gender pay gap. (Getty/utah778)

Doctors and nurses just gained a notorious distinction: They are both on the top five list of professions with the most egregious gender gaps when it comes to salaries.

In fact, physicians and surgeons are number two on the list, preceded only by financial managers, according to a new report released today by the American Association of University Women (AAUW).

Registered nurses ranked number five on the list. (Other professions to make the list included accountants and auditors and first-line supervisors of retail sales workers.)


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Overall, the gender pay gap means working women lose out on $500 billion a year, with women still paid on average only 80 cents for every dollar paid to a man, according to the annual report from the AAUW.

RELATED: 3 ways doctors say can help break the ‘fiberglass ceiling’ and close the startling gender pay gap

The cost to women physicians and surgeons, who earn 71% of what their male counterparts earn every year, is $19.5 billion. Women make up only 37% of the surgeons and physicians in the U.S. The report said 274,511 women physicians and surgeons are working in the U.S. Men earn an average of $243,072 per year, while women average only $171,880.

The cost to women registered nurses is $12.5 billion, as they earn 92% of what male colleagues earn. Men make up only 10% of the over 2 million registered nurses working in the country. Men earn an average of $71,590, while their female colleagues earn $65,612 per year.

The report analyzed 114 occupations and found the only salary gap favoring women was among wholesale and retail buyers, where women were paid overall $235 million more than men.

“While the nation’s unemployment rate is down, and the number of women working is up, the wage gap is sadly remaining stagnant,” said Kim Churches, chief executive officer of AAUW, in an announcement. “It’s unacceptable. There is no gender differentiation when it comes to quality, skills and talent.”

The salary gap among physicians comes as no surprise, as disparities in salaries have been frequently reported. But being number two on the list, when compared with other professions, is startling. And some of those gaps in physician salaries are shocking, like the survey earlier this year that found female doctors in Maryland earn almost 50% less than males.

One suggested way to begin to address the gender pay gap is to provide women with training to help them better negotiate their compensation and benefits. To that end, the AAUW is launching a free one-hour course to help train women in salary negotiation skills. The AAUW’s goal is to train 10 million women in salary negotiation by 2022.

In a blog post on The American Lawyer, columnist Vivia Chen suggests women are lousy negotiators because they aren’t willing to be unethical in high-stakes negotiations. She cites research that shows men tend to lie more easily than women and that they believe lying is acceptable.

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