Gender Pay Gap in Healthcare Persists

A recent report found a continued gap in men’s and women’s salaries. Healthcare and insurance were among the worst industries in terms of gender pay inequity.

A recent report by economic research company Glassdoor found a continued gap in men’s and women’s salaries, even after including detailed statistical controls for job titles and company names. Although the salary information in the review is self-reported, the findings mirror those of several other statistical analyses of the pay gaps in the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, Germany, and France.

“Men earn more than women on average in every country we examined, both before and after adding statistical controls for personal characteristics, job title, company, industry and other factors, designed to make an apples-to-apples comparison between workers,” the researchers noted in an executive summary.

Glassdoor’s analysis found that the largest pay gaps were in healthcare and insurance, with finance, transportation, media, and entertainment not far behind. The numbers were adjusted for population and the years of experience for men and women, meaning that traditional explanations, such as women taking time off from their career to build a family, were not a factor in the analysis.

Last year, a deep dive from 24/7 Wall Street into Bureau of Labor Statistics data found that women in healthcare earned slightly more than 60% of what men earned in similar positions. While physicians and surgeons are among the highest earners—6th of all industries overall—those careers had the second most severe earnings gap to financial advisors. “Because of the earnings gap,” the report noted, “while male doctors were the third highest earners among men, female doctors were only the 13th highest earners among women. A recent study found women are over-represented in traditionally lower-paying specialties, like pediatrics, which could partly explain the earnings gap.”

There are a number of factors that probably contribute to the gender pay gap, including how well-represented females are in the industry and, frankly, discrimination in the workplace. There are no easy answers for closing the gap. One oft-cited reason for income disparity is the fact that men are more likely to aggressively negotiate salary terms than are women. But an interesting (although dated) study in Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes found that women may be less likely to negotiate because they are more likely to be treated poorly when they do attempt to negotiate. Over a course of several experiments, study participants evaluating male and female candidates penalized females more than males for initiating negotiations regarding salary.

The Glassdoor study suggests that employer policies favoring salary transparency can help close the gender pay gap.