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Gender Gaps Persist in Pay at Academic Medical Centers

Female professors in top spots paid less than male peers, study finds

FRIDAY, April 2 (HealthDay News) -- Accomplished women in academic medicine are paid less than their male counterparts, a new study shows.

"The gender gap in pay has been well-documented, but what was not understood was whether academic accomplishments could overcome the pay gap," study leader Catherine DesRoches, of the Mongan Institute for Health Policy at Massachusetts General Hospital, said in a news release. "Our study found that, across the board, men are being paid substantially more than equally qualified and accomplished women at academic medical centers."

DesRoches and colleagues analyzed responses to anonymous surveys sent to more than 3,000 randomly selected faculty members in life science departments at the top 50 academic medical centers receiving U.S. National Institutes of Health funding in 2003 or 2004.

The study found that female professors worked many more hours per week than male professors. This was primarily because the women spent extra time in administrative and other tasks rather than teaching, doing research or caring for patients. Among associate professors, there was no significant difference in the hours worked by women and men.

After they controlled for a number of factors, including research productivity and academic ranking, the researchers concluded that women earned from $6,000 to $15,000 less per year than men with similar levels of accomplishment.

"These differences may seem modest but over a 30-year career, an average female faculty member with a Ph.D. would earn almost $215,000 less that of a comparable male," DesRoches said. "If that deficit were invested in a retirement account earning 6 percent per year, the difference would grow to almost $700,000 over a career. For department of medicine faculty, that difference could be almost twice as great."

The study appears in the April issue of the journal Academic Medicine.

More information

The American Association of University Women has more on pay gaps per state.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: Academic Medicine, news release, March 31, 2010

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