This gender gap directly affects anesthesiology. We starve ourselves of brilliant doctors solely because of their gender. There is a common misconception that just because men and women are being paid the same, that they are being treated fairly. A recent article put out by NPR highlights the incongruencies in this argument.
Jane Fitch, past president of the American Society of Anesthesiologists. explains the gender gap as a phenomena that is narrowing and closing over time. “But,” she emphasizes, “ we’re not there yet.” What research, reports, and statistics can’t account for is authentic response from female doctors.
To understand how to “close the gender gap,” we must understand qualitative experiences, such as a doctor’s work/life balance, where a doctor went to medical school, and details about a hospital she works. There are reasons besides unequal pay that deserve attention.
Female anesthesiologists are significantly more likely to work for an individual hospital and to be paid a flat salary rather than for each service performed, which often means getting paid less. However, it allows for a more flexible lifestyle and better working hours. This desire to work more flexible hours reflects the pattern of academics at medical school turning to clinical positions.
Women are three times as likely to work part-time, compared with men, and work on average six fewer hours per week with married female anesthesiologists worked, on average, less than married men.
Despite, or maybe in light of these difference, each doctor is integral to the medical community. Recognizing their unique talents contributes to the success of the community as a whole. Yes, it’s important to pay female doctors the same salary as men. To close the gender gap in the medical word, we also have to be sensitive to each and everyone’s career aspirations and challenges that may arise. We became doctors because we wanted to make the world a happier, healthier place. That begins with treating women equally.