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Achieving and Maintaining Salary Equity for Improved Performance

Pascale Lane

by Pascale Lane,M.D., Professor of Pediatrics, The University of Oklahoma Health Sciences

In the United States, women earn 79 cents for every dollar earned by men. Women of color suffer an even greater pay divide. Women’s career choices do not produce this gap; even in high-paying fields, women earn less than men. Gaps also exist in medicine and medical colleges, affecting physicians, physician-scientists, and PhD scientists. While some of the gaps can be attributed to hours of work, specialty choice, and other variables, men still out earn women after these variables are controlled.

Of participants at the GWIMS presentation, approximately 70 per cent represented institutions that conduct pay equity studies, although not necessarily on a regular basis. Results are often not widely disseminated though, lessening their utility.

The wide variety of compensation models in academic medicine makes comparisons within and between institutions challenging. Most centers utilize a base salary plus negotiated salary plus an incentivized component and, perhaps, an administrative supplement. Some of these components can be easily measured. Quality and impact of work, administrative roles, and the effect of starting salary can be more difficult to assess. Women often earn less from the start, and this initial gap gets magnified over time. Data from Yale resulted in a regression model that produced increased compensation for 7 per cent of faculty members, most of them women.
Doing studies is good. Disseminating and utilizing the results produces results. The University of California system performed a detailed equity study and presented their results for the San Francisco campus. Salary did not differ by under-represented minority status, and there were no differences for academic status advancement. However, base plus negotiated salary for women ran 3 per cent less than male faculty. While women and men received clinical incentives at the same rate, women ended up taking home 29 per cent less than men.
Salary equity studies and salary transparency generally produce positive results for an institution. Secrecy in compensation leads to a climate of suspicion and mistrust. More institutions need to analyze their financial rewards systems and make them fair. Even though women in academic medicine are not struggling like those in other jobs, inequity at any level is wrong.

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The State of Women in Academic Medicine Report

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