Survey: Female minorities working in health IT make 28% less than their white male colleagues

man counting money
A new survey shows significant pay gaps exist for women and minorities working in health IT. (Image: Julia_Sudnitskaya/Getty)

Gender and racial pay gaps prevalent in industries across the country are just as ubiquitous in health IT. And in some cases, the disparities are worse.

The average salary for a digital health professional was just shy $110,000, according to the HIMSS Compensation Survey released last week at the organization’s annual conference. The survey featured 885 responses from health IT professionals predominantly at hospitals.

But women and minorities made significantly less than their white male colleagues. On average, men made more than $123,000 annually, while the average annual salary for women was just over $100,000. That disparity works out to 82 cents on the dollar, identical to the difference in weekly earnings between men and women throughout the U.S. in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics.

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The gender gap within the health IT industry has made almost no progress over the past 12 years, returning to its 2006 level after dipping below 80% from 2009 to 2016.

However, the gap has worsened for female health IT executives since 2011, who now make 22% less than their male counterparts. Clinical managers have been the hardest hit, making 59 cents on the dollar compared to men in the same position.

RELATED: Health IT salaries fell 20% in 2017 even as executive compensation surged

Racial pay disparities are equally prevalent. On average, nonwhite health IT professionals make 12% less than their white counterparts. And nonwhite females experience what HIMSS dubbed “double-jeopardy,” with an average salary that is nearly $26,000 less than that of a white male colleague. 

Over the past 12 months, 74% of white professionals received a salary increase, compared to 64% of nonwhites. Additionally, 68% of males received a bonus of 3% or greater compared to 51% of females.

While nonwhites surveyed were the least satisfied with their pay, women were more satisfied than men.

“We can only speculate at this time as to why this incongruity occurs,” HIMSS wrote in its introduction to the survey results. “For example, it could be that females ‘know’ gender pay disparities exist but do not see it impacting their individual situation, or it could be that females, in particular, need to better understand their worth as digital health workers.”

Gender pay gaps are a persistent issue across the healthcare industry. Female physician assistants make 89 cents for every dollar paid to their male colleagues. Male primary care physicians earn 17% more than their female colleagues and male doctors in specialty care earn 37% more than women.