A new report released this week reveals that even in the esteemed medical field of cardiology, the gender pay gap persists.
The report, published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, found that median annual salaries for male cardiologists are more than $100,000 higher than for women in the same field—$502,251 compared to $394,586, a gap of 79 percent. That’s in line with reports that show American women make an average of 79 cents to every man’s dollar across professions.
According to the researchers, the reasons for the gap are many, but one big one is that more women typically work in general/non-invasive cardiology than men—53 percent of women cardiologists vs. 28 percent of men—a lower-paying area of the field. Also, men are four times more likely than women to sub-specialize in high-paying interventional cardiology.
But Pamela Douglas, one of the study’s authors, says there’s more to it than that—there are structural barriers to women’s full inclusion in the field that must be considered. She told TCTMD,
It’s a pretty facile statement to say [these discrepancies exist] because women don’t want to work very hard, because they want to be at home with their babies. Maybe that’s true, maybe not. But that’s not an assumption we should actually make without testing it. … Women obviously do choose, but do they do that because the other doors aren’t as open to them, because it’s not a welcoming environment? Or do they make that choice because truly, all other things being equal, that’s what they’d want to be doing?
Still, even when all variables—job category, numbers of days/hours worked, personal life choices—are considered, women doing the exact same work as male cardiologists earn about $37,000 less per year. Perhaps because of the barriers they know they’ll face, few women medical students end up in the profession: While med school classes are about 50/50 women and men, and first-year cardiology fellowship programs are about 21 percent female, women are just 12 percent of working cardiologists.
Said Douglas, “For the sake of the profession, we need to make sure we are tapping into all the talent we possibly can and that we are not in some way excluding people who could potentially contribute greatly to who we are and how we care for patients, as well as the kinds of discoveries they could be making and the value that brings.”
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