Gerber says there are areas in their study's data collection that did not account for all the subtleties in physician practice styles that could account for some of the salary differences, and hence, she says, there is need for further study. For instance, "on call" preferences may not have been picked up (in their study) and are likely reflected in compensation imbalance," she says.
There are also other reasons for the pay differences that could simply be the result of negotiations between physicians and their office management. "Newly trained physicians typically have no experience in contract negotiation, and it is possible that there is a gender disparity," Gerber says.
Still, she notes: "I cannot explain why that would have increased over time."
Gender gaps exist through a wide variety of settings, and there is a "wide spectrum of individual preference in changes in workplace settings or environment," Lo Sasso says.
In looking at their data, Lo Sasso and Gerber and their other co-authors note that other previous studies have been inconclusive about pay difference reasons, and "no clear conclusion on this issue has been reached."
New York State is home to more residency programs and more resident physicians than any other state. The sample included 4,918 men and 3,315 women, and more than 62% of physicians responded.
The salary discrepancies were revealed somewhat in the study and survey respondents. There were more women who planned to devote fewer than 40 hours per week to patient care, and a lower proportion of women who planned to devote more than 50 hours per week to patient care. Women also had a larger representation than men in lower-paying specialties, for instance, 13.9 percent of women were in pediatrics, versus 5 % of the men. Women also had lower average starting salaries than mean for nearly all specialties