Although the field of urology remains largely male dominated, the proportion of female physicians specializing in urology has increased from less than 0.5% in 1981 to 10% today, and 33% of students entering urology internships and residency programs are now female. Researchers report in the Journal of Urology® that gender inequality between male and female urologists persists with women currently earning approximately $76,000 less than men annually.
"Income disparities between men and women in the medical field are well established and have been reported in the specialty of urology, despite a recent increase in the proportion of female urologists," explained lead investigator Angela B. Smith, MD, MS, of the Department of Urology, University of North Carolina School of Medicine. "However, to our knowledge no previous studies have attempted to delineate the causes of gender inequality by concurrently examining important training and practice characteristics known to impact compensation."
As the result of the increase in the proportion of female urologists, there is more interest in the impact of gender on job satisfaction, work hours, and compensation. In collaboration with the American Urological Association, investigators sent more than 6,500 surveys to practicing urologists in the U.S. to gather data on demographics, gender, and years in practice. Additional practice-based questions included provider compensation, workload, training, practice focus, and practice characteristics. A total of 733 complete responses (660 or 90% male, 73 or 10% female) were collected for a total response rate of 13%. Their analysis characterizes the female workforce in urology compared to that of men with regard to income, workload, and job satisfaction.
After controlling for work hours, call frequency, age, practice setting and type, fellowship training, and advanced practice provider employment, adjusted annual salaries among female urologists were approximately $76,000 less than their male counterparts.
However, the study also demonstrated that while income can play an important role in overall job satisfaction, it is not the whole story. Female urologists surveyed consistently expressed high levels of job satisfaction despite two-thirds reporting gender discrimination and half having been discouraged from pursuing urology.
The results highlighted other gender differences. On average, female urologists vs. male urologists were younger (42 vs. 50 years), more likely to be fellowship trained (56% vs. 38%), and working in an academic setting (29% vs. 20%). They were less likely to be self-employed (33% vs. 51%) and reported working fewer hours per week (55 vs. 60).
"Gender was one of the strongest predictors of compensation in our multivariable model, suggesting that variations in practice setting and training do not explain the documented income inequalities between men and women in urology. In contrast, we did not find any significant gender differences in job satisfaction. Despite these known inequalities in compensation, an increasing number of women are entering the field of urology," commented Dr. Smith.