The only specialty that the number of women outweighed the number of men was pediatrics. This is stereotypical since women are often seen as ‘gentler’ and better with children, therefore they are pushed into this profession. The problem with being a pediatrician is you go to the same amount of medical school, pay the same amount of tuition, but get paid half the paycheck of any other specialty.

The two lowest paying medical specialties are pediatrics and OB/GYN. However, these are the two fields that people say women belong in. So by categorizing specialties by gender and giving some specialties lower pay based on the gender, we see discrimination.

Pediatricians average salary is $130,000 a year. While this is nothing to scoff at, it is a number to worry about debt wise. The average amount of debt a medical school student has is $173,000. With interest building on the debt, a family, mortgage, necessities, and bills to pay, it takes most pediatricians 15-20 years to pay back all debt. However, it takes other specialties on average 8-15 years to pay back debt. By the time all your debt is paid back, your in your mid 40’s.

OB/GYN doctors are paid on average $200,000. Again, while this is a pretty hefty paycheck, it is only a fraction of other specialties. For example, some cardiologists and neurologists get paid $600,000 a year, and you guess it, those fields are at least 70% male.

So why is it that the two lowest paid fields are the ones where women are encouraged to go? Is it ironic or intentional?  Its difficult to prove but, a study done by Harvard Medical School suggests that factoring in years of experience, schooling, and training, there is at least a $20,000 unexplainable gap within these two specialties. This means that even two identical people, one male and one female, who attended the same school and had the same experience in pediatrics or OB/GYN, would see a $20,000 difference in their paychecks. From this evidence, we can infer that there is a gender based wage gap.

Is it subconscious that women are encouraged to enter pediatrics and OB/GYN over other areas of study, or has it become the stereotype? The only evidence pointing to why women choose pediatrics over other specialties is because of the option to work part time is more accessible. However, with this being the only researched reason, and women are still practicing other areas of medicine, we can infer that the underlying reason is pressure from others to fall into this category.

Dr. Kathleen Beekman, an oncologist, was featured in a book called, Torn, by Samantha Parent Walravens. This book attempted to explain why women tend to be less career oriented. Dr. Beekmans essay tells the story of a time where she had just had a baby and been asked to head the tumor research during her second year of fellowship. After receiving this offer, a male colleague took her aside and said, “Don’t do it. You’ll be fodder for the department, and no one will take you seriously.” So she turned the position away out of fear of being inferior.

Discouragement, pay gap, and stereotyping specialties are a few of the reasons why women are discouraged from entering the medical field. The issues with promotions alone are enough to lead women away. Feeling inferior in any job is discouraging, especially when peers blatantly say that you are not fit for the job

CC BY-SA 4.0 Medical Specialty Discrimination by Chloe is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

1 Comment
  1. Anna 5 months ago

    What a fascinating topic Chloe. I never really considered the wage gap in the medical felid, let alone the reason for it. With both men and women getting the same amount of education and experience in med school, it seems absolutely crazy that theres a $20,000 gap. It was interesting to see the connection between lower paying professions within medicine were the same professions that women mostly go into. I wonder, are there any women in medicine fighting for same pay?

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