Just 21% of academic cardiologists are women—and they earn less than men

Gender gaps in both representation and salary are especially wide in academic cardiology, according to a new analysis published in JAMA Internal Medicine.

“The number of women pursuing internal medicine (IM) careers continues to rise; however, gender differences in physician salary and promotion have endured,” wrote first author Teresa Wang, MD, a specialist within the division of cardiovascular medicine at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, and colleagues. “Contemporary data on the workforce composition of IM subspecialist physicians are lacking. We sought to evaluate current demographics and salaries of academic IM physician specialists and hypothesized that gender disparities in remuneration persist despite the increase in female representation in academic IM.”

The study’s authors tracked demographic and salary data from the 2018-2019 fiscal year at 154 different U.S. medical schools. Overall, women made up 40% of total full-time faculty. Representation was much closer to even at the instructor (47%) and assistant (46%) levels, but it was just 24% at higher ranks such as professor.

Cardiology, the team noted, was the worst offender when it came to equal representation; just 21% of academic cardiologists included in the study were women. Meanwhile, women made up the majority for three specialties: general IM, endocrinology and geriatrics.

Shifting to compensation, the authors found that women had a lower medial annual salary across all faculty ranks. Women did have a median salary that was at least 90% of the men’s median salary in all IM specialties except cardiology, gastroenterology and critical/intensive care.

“Within IM, unadjusted salary differences between genders appear to be improving over time,” the authors wrote. “Yet, substantial salary inequities persist at the highest faculty levels and specifically in procedural-based specialties.”

Read the full research letter in JAMA Internal Medicine here.

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