Gender wage gaps persist in otolaryngology, but there has been progress.

Public Health

Otolaryngology Makes Strides in Shrinking Gender Wage Gap

“While there appears to be slight movement in the right direction, physician pay parity continues to be a critical area in need of improvement."

The field of otolaryngology has seen improvement in gender wage disparities in the past few years after previously sporting the biggest pay gap between men and women doctors, according to a recent report.

Based on 2020 data, women otolaryngologists earned 77.9 percent of men’s salaries, according to the  2020 Physician Compensation Report by Doximity and Curative, scoring the largest gender wage gap of all medical specialties.

Male otolaryngologists earned $493,888 compared with $384,983 earned by their female counterparts, according to data tracked for the 2020 report.

This year, otolaryngology doesn’t appear among the top five specialties for gender pay disparities, according to the 2023 Physician Compensation Report.

Oral & maxillofacial surgery took the top slot, with the biggest gap between men’s and women’s salaries. Males in that field earned $568,789 compared with $395,687 for women.

The survey includes responses from more than 190,000 U.S. doctors over six years, with a goal of addressing employment trends shaping U.S. healthcare, according to the 2023 report.

Gender lag contributes to the otolaryngology gap, given that higher proportions of women are now in training and in earlier stages of their careers, said Dr. Dana L. Crosby in an interview with ENTtoday. Crosby is the department chair, residency program director and associate professor in otolaryngology at Southern Illinois University School of Medicine in Springfield, Illinois.

Not only are female otolaryngologists younger on average, they also are more likely to practice in urban areas rather than rural ones. Billing for otolaryngology services typically is lower in urban areas, possibly contributing to the gap, Dr. Erin O’Brien told ENTtoday. O’Brien is associate professor and chair of the division of rhinology in the otolaryngology department at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.

In 2022, there were no medical specialties in which women earned the same or more than men in a given field. All specialties had gender pay gaps exceeding 10 percent. The exceptions were pediatric cardiology, which had a pay gap of 9.2 percent and nuclear medicine, with a 3 percent pay gap, according to the 2023 report.

The overall gender pay gap for physicians  decreased slightly, from 28 percent in 2021 to 26 percent in 2022. Women physicians earned nearly $110,000 less than men, even when salaries were controlled for specialty, location and years of experience, according to the 2023 Physician Compensation Report.

“While there appears to be slight movement in the right direction, physician pay parity continues to be a critical area in need of improvement,” according to the 2023  report. “This pay gap may be contributing to an even higher burnout rate among women physicians, with nearly 92 percent of women physicians surveyed reporting overwork, compared to 83 percent of men.”

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