Wage Gaps in Medicine: Path to Equality
By: Carolina Ruiz
One of the key trends seen among recent generations is the increased involvement of women taking an active role toward their career. Studies have shown that the amount of women pursuing college degrees has increased over past decades, and this trend is continuing with time.
Yet, some disparities still exist – one of them being the wage gap between men and women.
A study conducted by PayScale for the year 2020 found that under median salary, women earn 81 cents for every dollar earned by men. Under the controlled study, where both have equal qualifications, women earn 98 cents for every dollar men make.
This pay gap has been shown to widen when races and ethnic groups are involved. The largest pay gap is seen within the groups of women who are American Indian, African American or black, and Hispanic.
The opportunity gap has largely been used to explain these disparities. Reasons for this gap could include women being underrepresented in STEM fields, deterring them from qualifying for these positions; biases still existing within certain organizations; and family leave or obligations.
There is also a large underrepresentation of women in higher paying jobs and leadership positions. Men who make it to executive level positions or rise to the C-suite actually double the amount of women who make it to these levels.
An article from the AAMC studied the disparities existing among physicians and shows that the wage gap tends to begin from the start of a female’s career and continues throughout its course. Many institutions are trying to counteract these statistics and have developed procedures in order to enforce pay equity. Some organizations are even using sponsorship and mentoring programs for qualified women to obtain the experience necessary to pursue career growth.
Many of these disparities can also start at young ages. Women in college who aren’t pursuing higher education careers may not know what these fields hold or have feelings of insecurity due to male dominance. Some universities have implemented programs to help women obtain networking opportunities and learn more about the different aspects that STEM careers entail. I can attest to this as a student in the Future Ready: Connecting STEM Women to Industry Program at Stony Brook University in New York. Aside from providing us the training to obtain employment, we are learning how to develop ourselves as professional women and how to showcase our abilities to future employers and/or higher education administrators. Using programs like these can inspire a new generation of women in higher level careers.
With proper guidance and the right mentorship, change can happen. These disparities among men and women can be changed for equality in any workplace, specifically when same qualifications are in play.
The effort toward women’s rights has been a process achieved day by day, and pay equity is another milestone along the way.
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