Gender Discrepancies in Neurologist Compensation

Background and Objectives

Previous studies have shown gender disparities in physician pay in various specialties. This retrospective, cross-sectional study evaluated data from the American Academy of Neurology (AAN) Compensation and Productivity Survey for differences in neurologist compensation by gender.

Methods

Of the 3,268 completed surveys submitted, 2,719 were from neurologists and 1,466 had sufficient data for analysis (551 women, 951 men respondents). We calculated an hourly wage from full-time equivalent (FTE) status and weeks worked per year. We evaluated differences in men and women neurologist compensation with multivariable generalized linear models adjusting for race, ethnicity, geographic region, practice setting, years in practice, call status, leadership role, straight salary, and subspecialty.

Results

Baseline characteristics for men and women neurologists were similar with the exception of subspecialty distribution. More men were practicing in higher-wage subspecialties compared to women (p < 0.05). Mean FTE annual salary for all neurologists was $280,315, and mean standardized hourly compensation was $131. Estimated annual salary for women was 10.7% less (p ≤ 0.001, 95% confidence interval –4% to –16%) after controlling for race, region, years of practice, practice setting, call status, leadership role, and subspecialty-wage category. FTE annual salary for women neurologists in high-compensation specialties ($281,838) was lower than the mean annual salary for men neurologists in both high-compensation ($365,751) and low-compensation subspecialties ($282,813). When broken down by years of practice, the highest earning women neurologists’ mean hourly wage (11–20 years of practice, $128/h) was less than that of all men neurologists except those with 0 to 5 years of practice ($125/h).

Discussion

This study, using convenience sample data, adds to the existing body of evidence demonstrating that, despite adjustment for multiple confounding variables, ongoing disparities exist in physician compensation. Despite efforts by professional societies such as the AAN, ongoing systemic issues and barriers exist. Further research into underlying causes and mitigation strategies is recommended; use of probability sampling methods in future research will be important to decrease potential bias and to increase generalizability.

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