A Structured Compensation Plan Improves But Does Not Erase the Gender Pay Gap in Surgery
Melanie S. Morris*, Herb Chen, Marty Heslin, Helen Krontiras*
University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, AL
A growing body of evidence highlights the gender pay gap in medicine. Nationally female physicians make 26% less than men, while women in the state of Alabama are paid 43% less than their male physician counterparts. The aim of this study is to examine the relationship between the gender pay gap in a large academic department of surgery and a recently instituted structured compensation plan.
Salaries in the Department of Surgery from 2014-2017 were compared to the AAMC median values based on region and academic rank then stratified by gender. Relative value units (RVUs) were calculated for each surgeon. Exclusion criteria included faculty not on staff during the entire study or on a guaranteed salary plan.
Overall, among 42 faculty, a gender pay gap existed. Prior to the new compensation plan, 31 male surgeon salaries were significantly higher than 11 female surgeon salaries [56% (8-213) vs 26% (1-64); p<0.00001] despite similar RVU production (men 8725 ± 831 vs women 7818 ± 911, p=0.454). Implementing a structured compensation plan did not significantly change salaries of male surgeons 58% (26-159); p=0.552]. However, the compensation plan did significantly increase the salaries of female surgeons 42% (10-80); p=0.026]. Before the compensation plan, female surgeons earned 46% of their male colleagues compared to 72% after the structured plan.
In a short period of time, a structured compensation plan improves the gender pay gap. Further efforts need to focus on understanding the inequity and maintaining a long lasting plan to eliminate it.
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