(Reuters Health) – Women in pediatrics still earn less than men even with similar levels of experience and even after accounting for the disproportionate amount of time they devote to unpaid work at home, two new studies suggest.
Overall, U.S. pediatricians had average annual income of US$189,804, one study based on a 2016 survey of about 1,200 pediatricians found. Women earned about 76per cent of what men earned, or about US$51,000 a year less on average.
Once researchers accounted for differences in work hours, specialty, and a range of work-family characteristics like caregiving duties, women still earned 94per cent of what men did.
"While these findings are not surprising and reinforce the reality of gender differences in household labor responsibility versus salary generation expectations based on sex, they also demonstrate that a 6per cent wage gap persists even after accounting for all of these factors," said Anita Raj, author of an editorial accompanying the studies and director of the Center on Gender Equity and Health at the University of California, San Diego.
"This remaining gap may be attributable to ongoing gender discrimination in the workplace," Raj said by email.
Pediatrics includes the highest percentage of women among all of the various specialties in medicine, researchers note in the journal Pediatrics. About 6 in 10 practicing pediatricians and 7 in 10 graduating pediatrics residents are women, the study team notes.
Female-dominated professions tend to have lower earnings than male-dominated professions, across a wide variety of careers beyond just medicine. While some previous research has found this to be true for pediatricians who provide primary care to kids, studies to date haven't offered a clear picture of what happens for pediatric subspecialties that require advanced training and skills.
The current study focused on general pediatrics as well as subspecialties like neonatology, cardiology, critical care, emergency medicine, gastroenterology and hematology. Even in specialties, the gender gap in pay persisted.
"Women still tend to earn less than men while spending more time than men on household responsibilities," said Dr. Amy Starmer, a co-author of the wage study and a researcher at Harvard Medical School and Boston Children's Hospital.
"While it remains unknown whether the knowledge of these new data might affect career decisions for physicians, it is clear that future efforts will need to advocate for policies and programs that aim to mitigate these disparities," Starmer said by email.
A separate study in Pediatrics looked at one factor that can impact earnings – the amount of time away from work doctors devote to family life, caregiving, and house