NEW YORK (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Female surgeons expect to earn about $1 million less in their careers than their male colleagues, U.S. research showed on Thursday, illustrating a dramatic case of a gender wage gap as scrutiny of sexism in the workplace grows.
Women in general surgery expected to be paid an average of $30,000 less each year than men over a 30-year career and felt less comfortable negotiating pay, according to LA BioMed, a California-based research institute.
“They’re already undervaluing themselves to begin with,” said Christian de Virgilio, LA BioMed researcher and chairman of the Department of Surgery at UCLA-Harbor Medical Center, a hospital in California.
“It’s not that the women are expecting to work less,” he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation, adding that there were no differences between the sexes in the number of hours they planned to work or their ambitions for top jobs.
Pay discrimination based on gender is illegal in the United States, but wages lag drastically for women, and the issue has drawn increased attention with the onset of the #MeToo movement and other debates over women’s treatment in the workplace.
Last year in the United States, working women earned 82 percent of what men were paid, the Pew Research Center found.
U.S. surgeons tend to be highly paid, earning an average of $322,000 a year, according to Nomad, an online medical job marketplace.
But men in medical specialties, including general surgery, earn about one-third more than women, according to Medscape, a website of medical information.
“The reason we did this study to begin with is it’s well recognized among surgeons that there is a pay gap between men and women,” de Virgilio said.
The research found women felt less equipped to ask for more money and were less likely to seek other job offers as negotiating tactics, he said.
He said the research did not look at whether biases exist in the hiring processes - such as whether employers might offer women lower salaries than men - one of the theories behind the persistence of the gender wage gap around the world.
The World Economic Forum reported a global economic gap in 2016 of 58 percent between the sexes.
LA BioMed said it sent anonymous questionnaires to about 600 general surgical residents - those who have completed medical school and an internship - across the country, with roughly a 70 percent response rate.
Reporting by Ellen Wulfhorst, Editing by Katy Migiro. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women's and LGBT+ rights, human trafficking, property rights and climate change. Visit news.trust.org