"The power of physicians' observable characteristics – such as gender and specialty choices – to explain the differences in salaries diminished over time, which has created a widening unexplained starting salary gap between male and female physicians in recent years," authors wrote in the study.
"I was surprised by our findings, in particular by the widening, rather than shrinking gap in time," Susan E. Gerber, MD, an assistant professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Northwestern University in Chicago, and one of the co-authors of the study, told me.
"In all likelihood," she adds, "This is a multi-factorial phenomenon. While it is unclear why it would be on the rise, we cannot exclude the possibility that gender discrimination plays a role."
Tony Lo Sasso, a professor and senior research scientist in the health policy and administration division, for the school of public health, University of Illinois at Chicago, another co-author, tells me while gender discrimination is a possibility, "it doesn't ring true," because there is too much room for other, unexplained probabilities, such as specific work arrangements, for the reduced salaries for women.
"We should be cautious in trying to ascribe explanations which are essentially unobservable things, not observed by us," Lo Sasso says.
Lo Sasso and Gerber agree that many variables are involved, such as specific work-life arrangements among men and women, and lifestyle choices, generally, that go into the mix of what occurs on pay day for work and family balance. In some ways, they are living it. They are married.