CHICAGO — Recognizing that inequity in medicine is a complex, pervasive issue that requires a multilayered approach, the American Medical Association (AMA) today adopted a set of Principles for Advancing Gender Equity in Medicine. The new principles come as a number of studies continue to show significant gaps in pay and leadership disparities for women in medicine.
According to the 2018 Medscape Physician Compensation Report, female physicians in primary care earn nearly 18 percent less than their male counterparts. Among all physicians, the pay disparity is even more pronounced, with female physicians earning 36 percent less than male physicians. Similar disparities also exist in academic medicine, not just in terms of pay but in terms of leadership opportunities as well. Although women accounted for 41 percent of full-time medical school faculty in 2018, they made up only 25 percent of tenured faculty (of all ranks) and only 25 percent of full professors and 38 percent of associate professors.
“The statistics on pay and leadership disparities in medicine are jarring, but sadly, unsurprising,” said AMA Board Chair Jesse M. Ehrenfeld, M.D., M.P.H. “Even as the number of women in medicine increases — and women now outnumber men as physicians-in-training — more must be done to spur change and eliminate the bias and discrimination that adversely affect women and, consequently, our profession. These Principles for Advancing Gender Equity in Medicine are a step in the right direction for the AMA, women in medicine, and toward achieving our goal of improving the health of the nation.”
The new policy and principles, adopted at the Annual Meeting of the House of Delegates, state the AMA:
- Declares it is opposed to any exploitation and discrimination in the workplace based on personal characteristics;
- Affirms the concept of equal rights for all physicians and that the concept of equity of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the U.S. government or by any state on account of gender;
- Endorses the principle of equal opportunity of employment and practice in the medical field;
- Affirms its commitment to the full involvement of women in leadership roles throughout the federation, and encourages all components of the federation to vigorously continue their efforts to recruit women members into organized medicine;
- Acknowledges that mentorship and sponsorship are integral components of one’s career advancement, and encourages physicians to engage in such activities;
- Declares that compensation should be equitable and based on demonstrated competencies/expertise and not based on personal characteristics;
- Recognizes the importance of part-time work options, job sharing, flexible scheduling, re-entry, and contract negotiations as options for physicians to support work-life balance;
- Affirms that transparency in pay scale and promotion criteria is necessary to promote gender equity, and as such academic medical centers, medical schools, hospitals, group practices and other physician employers should conduct periodic reviews of compensation and promotion rates by gender and evaluate protocols for advancement to determine whether criteria are discriminatory; and
- Affirms that medical schools, institutions and professional associations should provide training on leadership development, contract and salary negotiations and career advancement strategies that include an analysis of the influence of gender in these skill areas.
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