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Doctor pay disparity isn't just gender discrimination

Dr. Jody Hooper, director of Autopsy and director of the Legacy Gift Rapid Autopsy Program at Johns Hopkins Medicine.
Dr. Jody Hooper, director of Autopsy and director of the Legacy Gift Rapid Autopsy Program at Johns Hopkins Medicine. (Algerina Perna / Baltimore Sun)

I read with interest the article, “Male-female disparity in Md. doctor pay” (Aug. 5), which stated that “Male doctors in Maryland are paid about 50 percent more on average than their female counterparts.” The article concluded: “starting salaries for male and female physicians in Maryland are similar … it’s unclear what led to the stark difference later in their careers.”

Actually, there are two reasons for the “stark differences later in their careers.” An article in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 2017 reported, male physicians with children worked an average of 55 hours per week compared to female physicians with children who worked an average of 41 hours per week. Additionally, an article in the Journal of the American College of Surgeons in 2014 reported that “women were substantially underrepresented among residents in neurosurgery, orthopedics, urology, otolaryngology, general surgery and radiology (higher paying medical specialties); women constituted 47 percent of U.S. graduates specializing in internal medicine and 75 percent in pediatrics (lower paying medical specialties).

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Thus, these two factors, not gender discrimination, account for the income differences between male and female physicians in Maryland.

Dr. Leon Reinstein, Baltimore

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