Women internists earn less than men as generalists, hospitalists, subspecialists

Women earn 80 cents for every dollar earned by men, according to an ACP cross-sectional survey of a nationally representative panel of ACP nonstudent members.

Women internists earn a median of $50,000 a year less than men whether they are generalists, hospitalists, or subspecialists, according to research report by the American College of Physicians.

The disparities existed even when the researchers controlled for specialty, number of hours worked, and practice characteristics. The average median annual salary for men was $250,000 compared to $200,000 for women, which works out to women earning 80 cents for every dollar earned by men. Female physicians earned less than men in every type of internal medicine practice, ranging from a salary difference of $29,000 for internal medicine specialists to $45,000 for subspecialists.

Researchers for ACP gathered these data from a cross-sectional survey of a nationally representative panel of ACP nonstudent members. The brief research report was published Aug. 7 by Annals of Internal Medicine.

The income differential between men and women was higher among physicians who were practice owners than for employees ($72,500 vs. $43,000), suggesting that women who own their practice pay themselves less than men who do so, the researchers said. The most pronounced discrepancy between men and women occurred in solo practices ($70,000), and the smallest occurred in government settings ($30,000). The income difference by gender was $37,500 for physicians who spend most of their time in face-to-face direct patient care and $52,500 for those in administration.

According to the authors, the research is a step forward in ensuring that physicians are compensated equally and fairly at all stages of their professional careers in accordance with their skills, knowledge, competencies, and expertise.

An editorial stated, “Women are increasingly becoming the lifeblood of the medical profession. The health of persons in the United States depends on women being treated fairly and equitably.”

The College previously published a paper, “Achieving Gender Equity in Physician Compensation and Career Advancement,” in Annals of Internal Medicine calling for the adoption of equitable compensation policies in all organizations that employ physicians, investment in leadership development, negotiation and career development programs, and parental and family leave policies.