As they began their study, the authors thought an explanation for the pay differences could be the increased number of women in primary care practice. However, while the number of female physicians in primary care has indeed been rising, they say, there have been proportionately a decreasing percentage of female physicians having chosen to enter primary care fields.
The study did not include possible scenarios that could reveal more of the differences in salaries. For instance, the study did not include the questioning of respondents about marital and family status.
Indeed, Lo Sasso says, the survey findings may come down to "women making these tradeoffs, willing to give up the less tangible aspects" of physician work, such as salary, for a work-life balance.
Maybe. But maybe not so fast, according to his wife.
"There are certainly demographic changes that affect career choices, and younger generations have different goals as far as a work life/home life balance," says Gerber.
"However, most other studies have demonstrated a similar impact of this demographic shift on both genders rather than on just women," she adds. "Both male and female trainees are increasingly likely to seek employment opportunities with flexibility in scheduling, as opposed to the old 'solo practice' model," she says, noting her experience in the practice of obstetrics and gynecology.