Gender bias in salaries among Pennsylvania M.D.'s, find University of Pittsburgh researchers

July 16, 2000

PITTSBURGH, July 17 -- Female physicians in Pennsylvania earn significantly less money than their male counterparts, report investigators from the University of Pittsburgh's Graduate School of Public Health (GSPH) in the July 18 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine. After adjusting for demographics, training and practice characteristics, investigators found that among internal medicine physicians, men earn 14 percent more than women do.

"Over the past 20 years, women have accounted for an increasing percentage of the U.S. physician workforce, yet they have lagged behind their male colleagues in various measures of career success," said Roberta Ness, M.D., M.P.H., assistant professor of epidemiology and director of the Epidemiology of Women's Health Program at the GSPH, and principal investigator on the study. "Our results show that in terms of salary -- perhaps the most important marker of gender equity at work -- these women are behind men."

Survey results showed that female doctors are more likely than male doctors to: Because gender-related salary inequality persisted after adjustment for all of these factors, investigators wonder whether gender bias may contribute to the gap.

Across the board, female physicians are more likely than men to be involved in the least lucrative medical specialties and to spend fewer hours per week working," said Dr. Ness. But even after adjusting for the compensation differences among various medical specialties, we found that the women earned 14 percent less per hour than their male counterparts. "If left unadjusted, the gender gap is 28 percent less per hour."

To ensure a population-based, uniform survey, investigators limited their study to physicians who were practicing within the state of Pennsylvania and who were 10 to 30 years beyond medical school.

Questionnaires were completed by 232 male and 213 female internists, who provided information on demographics, training, board certification, practice type and setting, status within the practice, type and level of promotion, faculty appointment, marital status, number and ages of children, leave from work and salary. They also were asked about number of hours worked per week and how those hours were divided among patient care, research, patient-related paperwork, administration and teaching.

Specialties were divided into high earning (cardiology, hematology/oncology, gastroenterology and pulmonary), low earning (allergy and immunology, endocrinology, geriatrics, infectious disease, nephrology and rheumatology) and general medicine.

Previous research examining gender differences in career success among physicians has focused on those in academic settings. The GSPH study included practitioners in a variety of settings. Seventy-five percent of the respondents were not salaried academics.

Consistent with response rates in previous studies on physician salaries, about one-third of potential subjects did not respond. In this survey, men and non-academics were less likely to answer questions about salary. Since non-academics appear to be more highly paid than academics, investigators believe that had all potential respondents answered, the difference between men's and women's salaries would be greater than 14 percent.

"In an academic setting, institutional support has been shown to be less available to women, but efforts to improve this support have resulted in major gains in women's professional advancement," said Dr. Ness. "However, we know of no models showing how to equalize the work environment outside of academia. Our study suggests the need for further examination of barriers to salary equity in the non-academic setting."
Established in 1948, the GSPH at the University of Pittsburgh is world-renowned for contributions that have influenced public health practices and medical care for millions of people. It is the only fully accredited school of public health in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and is one of the top-ranked schools of public health in the United States.

For more information about the GSPH at the University of Pittsburgh, access the school's website at

University of Pittsburgh Medical Center

Related Public Health Articles from Brightsurf:

COVID-19 and the decolonization of Indigenous public health
Indigenous self-determination, leadership and knowledge have helped protect Indigenous communities in Canada during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, and these principles should be incorporated into public health in future, argue the authors of a commentary in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal)

Public health consequences of policing homelessness
In a new study examining homelessness, researchers find that policy such a lifestyle has massive public health implications, making sleeping on the street even MORE unhealthy.

Electronic health information exchange improves public health disease reporting
Disease tracking is an important area of focus for health departments in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Pandemic likely to cause long-term health problems, Yale School of Public Health finds
The coronavirus pandemic's life-altering effects are likely to result in lasting physical and mental health consequences for many people--particularly those from vulnerable populations--a new study led by the Yale School of Public Health finds.

The Lancet Public Health: US modelling study estimates impact of school closures for COVID-19 on US health-care workforce and associated mortality
US policymakers considering physical distancing measures to slow the spread of COVID-19 face a difficult trade-off between closing schools to reduce transmission and new cases, and potential health-care worker absenteeism due to additional childcare needs that could ultimately increase mortality from COVID-19, according to new modelling research published in The Lancet Public Health journal.

The Lancet Public Health: Access to identification documents reflecting gender identity may improve trans mental health
Results from a survey of over 20,000 American trans adults suggest that having access to identification documents which reflect their identified gender helps to improve their mental health and may reduce suicidal thoughts, according to a study published in The Lancet Public Health journal.

The Lancet Public Health: Study estimates mental health impact of welfare reform, Universal Credit, in Great Britain
The 2013 Universal Credit welfare reform appears to have led to an increase in the prevalence of psychological distress among unemployed recipients, according to a nationally representative study following more than 52,000 working-age individuals from England, Wales, and Scotland over nine years between 2009-2018, published as part of an issue of The Lancet Public Health journal on income and health.

BU researchers: Pornography is not a 'public health crisis'
Researchers from the Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH) have written an editorial in the American Journal of Public Health special February issue arguing against the claim that pornography is a public health crisis, and explaining why such a claim actually endangers the health of the public.

The Lancet Public Health: Ageism linked to poorer health in older people in England
Ageism may be linked with poorer health in older people in England, according to an observational study of over 7,500 people aged over 50 published in The Lancet Public Health journal.

Study: Public transportation use linked to better public health
Promoting robust public transportation systems may come with a bonus for public health -- lower obesity rates.

Read More: Public Health News and Public Health Current Events is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to