Discussions about compensation, particularly when they are focused on disparities for women and other people who identify with one or more underrepresented groups, often elicit strong emotions from those involved.
For example, current leaders may feel defensive about their decisions and actions involving paying people who work for them, and workers may feel angry or upset if they know or perceive that they are not being paid fairly. Health care leaders should recognize that emotionally charged discussions may cause reasonable people to minimize or even abandon the facts in favor of whatever position they are advocating for.
To support productive conversations that advance pay equity for women in medicine, I have developed the following list of nine things every health care leader should know about compensation:
There is an urgent need to address gender-related pay disparities for women in medicine. Progress may be hindered or even derailed altogether if participants in the process (or other stakeholders) are not knowledgeable about the compensation-related evidence-base and relevant facts. The nine tips I highlight here are not intended to be all-inclusive; rather they are aimed at helping to prepare leaders prepare for challenging conversations about pay equity. Importantly, during this time when misinformation and disinformation is common, good health care leaders can distinguish themselves by educating others about what is known to be true. Great leaders, regardless of their gender, will be ethical (Silver, 2018) and use science and facts to drive change--even when they encounter resistance--to ensure that women are paid fairly.
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Association of American Medical Colleges (2020), Association of American Medical Colleges Position Statement on Gender Equity. Accessed on May 18, 2020. https://www.aamc.org/what-we-do/mission-areas/diversity-inclusion/aamc-statement-gender-equity
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Lo Sasso, A.T., Armstrong, D., Forte, G. & Berber, S.E. (2020) Differences in starting pay for male and female physicians persist: Explanations for the gender gap remain elusive. Health Affairs, 39(2). https://doi.org/10.1377/hlthaff.2019.00664
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Mass.gov. (2020). Introduction to the basics of the Massachusetts Equal Pay Act. https://www.mass.gov/service-details/introduction-to-the-basics-of-the-massachusetts-equal-pay-act
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Schor, N.F. (2018) The decanal divide: women in decanal roles at US medical schools. Academic Medicine, 93(2). https://doi.org/10.1097/ACM.0000000000001863
Silver, J.K. (2018, September 17). #BeEthical: a call to healthcare leaders: ending gender workforce disparities is an ethical imperative. She Leads Healthcare. sheleadshealthcare.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/Be_Ethical_Campaign_101418.pdf.
Silver, J.K. (2019). Understanding and addressing gender equity for women in neurology. Neurology, 93(12). https://doi.org/10.1212/WNL.0000000000008022
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