Female physicians continue to find that they receive lower compensation than their male counterparts, according to a 2021 Physician’s Compensation Report. Data from the report indicate that male primary care physicians (PCPs) earn 27% more per year than female PCPs. Nonetheless, female physicians most frequently choose primary care for their careers, followed by obstetrics/gynecology. What’s more, female physicians make up just 20% of the highest paying specialties, including orthopedics, plastic surgery, urology, and cardiology.
Overall, only about one-third of specialists are female, and those who are earn 33% less than their male counterparts, on average; in general, female physicians earn 35% less than males, regardless of age. However, the gap between female and male physicians among those aged 35-44 and 45-54 has sizably increased since the report’s 2020 iteration, now teetering on the edge of a $100,000 per year difference. For those younger than 35, the difference was $84,000 per year, compared with a difference of $75,000 per year for those aged 55 and older.
Practice setting also plays a role in female physician compensation. Whereas those who worked in office-based solo practices earned $281,000 per year, those in office-based, single-specialty group practices earned $13,000 less, those in office-based, multispecialty group practices earned nearly $30,000 less, and those in outpatient clinics earned nearly $50,000 less. The report also shows that the top-paid group of female physicians experienced a $9,000 per year decrease in pay from the 2020 report. When asked if they feel fairly compensated, 62% of male respondents said yes, compared with 54% of female respondents.
Discrepancies between sexes exist within incentive bonuses as well. Among PCPs, 62% of male physicians reported incentive bonuses, compared with 56% of female physicians. Among specialists, incentive bonuses existed for 57% of male physicians and 51% of females. As far as the percentage of incentive bonuses that physicians actually receive, female physicians earned a lower percentage of their incentive bonuses than males. While 47% of male respondents received all of their incentive bonus, only 38% of female respondents received the full bonus.
In regard to net worth, 31% of male physicians earned $2-5 million per year, compared with 18% of female physicians. When it comes to earning more than $5 million per year, only 5% of female physicians fit the bill, compared with 13% of male physicians. Examining the percentage of respondents who earned more than $1 million per year, 20% more male than female physicians fit the category.