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Right on the Money? Gender Pay Gaps in EM

January 10, 2022

 Written by Rebecca White

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Within academic emergency medicine, female physicians hold fewer leadership roles than male physicians. When they do, they work more clinical hours and are paid significantly less than their male counterparts.

Why does this matter?
Women hold leadership roles in healthcare significantly less often than men. And research has shown that male physicians earn about $20,000 more yearly than their female counterparts after accounting for known potential confounders. Do the same gender differences hold true within emergency medicine for physician leadership compensation?

More Work = Less Pay?
This cross-sectional, observational study collected 8,820 responses from 154 emergency departments over five years using the AAAEM/AACEM Benchmark survey. Responders were classified into four categories: no leadership role, operations leadership, education leadership, and executive leadership. 

The average percentage of women in any leadership role was significantly less than men (44.5% [95% CI: ± 1.7%]) vs. 55.3% [95% CI: ± 1.2%]). Female physicians holding leadership roles worked more clinical hours than their male counterparts (female median 1,008; male median 960). At each time point, women reported significantly lower salaries than men, with unadjusted salary differences of negative $54,409 yearly for executive leaders, negative $27,803 for operations leaders, and negative $17,803 for education leaders. 

Systemic processes should be studied to determine the root causes for these differences. Pay standardization, wage audits, and transparency may begin to rectify this inequality (and other potential inequalities) if enacted.

Source
Salary disparities based on gender in academic emergency medicine leadership. Acad Emerg Med. 2021 Oct 24. doi: 10.1111/acem.14404. Epub ahead of print.

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