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Male Doctors Still Make More Than Female Doctors

Update Date: Sep 02, 2013 04:18 PM EDT

Even among doctors, men outearn women.  New research reveals that the gap in pay between male and female doctors in the United States has persisted over the last two decades.

Researchers at the University of South California looked at nationally representative data from the March Current Population Survey (CPS) from 1987 to 2010, and estimated trends in the male-female earnings gap among physicians, other health care workers, and workers overall.

The study involved data from 1,334,894 individuals, including 6,258 physicians and 31,857 other health care professionals.  Researchers looked at three periods of time (1987-1990, 1996-2000, and 2006-2010) and adjusted for hours worked to avoid overestimating gender differences in earnings if female doctors worked fewer hours.

The study revealed that the percentage of female doctors increased from 10.3 percent between 1987 and 1990 to 28.4 percent between 2006 and 2010.

However, there was no significant improvement over time in the earnings of female doctors relative to male doctors. 

Researchers noted that, overall, the gender gap decreased dramatically outside of the health care industry but inconsistently within it.

"While it is important to study gender differences in earnings after accounting for factors such as specialty choice and practice type, it is equally important to understand overall unadjusted gender differences in earnings. This is because specialty and practice choices may be due to not only preferences of female physicians but also unequal opportunities," researchers wrote in the study.

The findings are published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine

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