SECTION SPOTLIGHT: Providing Tools to Navigate the Obstacles of Pay Parity
On the surface, it may seem that progress for women in our specialty at the leadership level is accelerating. However, glaring discrepancies in pay and metrics of advancement for women in our specialty and medicine in general continue to exist.
Priya D. Krishna, MD
Chair, Women in Otolaryngology
In the last 20 years, we’ve seen four women Presidents of the AAO-HNS/F and will be installing Kathleen L. Yaremchuk, MD, MSA, during the AAO-HNSF 2022 Annual Meeting & OTO Experience this September in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. On the surface, it may seem that progress for women in our specialty at the leadership level is accelerating. However, glaring discrepancies in pay and metrics of advancement for women in our specialty and medicine in general continue to exist.
In 2004, Jennifer R. Grandis, MD, showed that there was a 15% to 20% difference in compensation between male and female otolaryngologists.1 A more recent review from Robin W. Lindsay, MD,2 cites a 22.1% lower salary for women faculty at academic institutions with a projected $3 million loss of income over the duration of an otolaryngologist’s career. A Doximity survey in 2020 crowned otolaryngology with the dubious honor of having the largest gender pay gap of any specialty studied. One could argue that surveys are subject to bias, however, other more rigorously conducted studies have confirmed these statistics.
Clearly, we have much more work left to do to ensure gender equality and equity.
The Women in Otolaryngology (WIO) Section is working to provide women otolaryngologists with tools that will help them navigate obstacles standing in the way of achieving pay parity. In March, a contract negotiation webinar was jointly hosted by WIO and the Young Physicians Section and featured Kyle Claussen, CEO of Resolve, a firm specializing in physician recruitment and contract review. The webinar covered such topics as contract terms that may specifically impact women (pregnancy accommodations, maternity leave, part-time employment, the impact on RVUs), COVID-19 impacts, daily considerations (schedule, call, scope of practice, staffing), compensation models, letters of intent, termination, and bonus structure. At the AAO-HNS/F 2022 Virtual Leadership Forum & BOG Spring Meeting on April 9, Kate Stewart, Vice President and General Manager for ENT at Strkyer, gave a talk titled “Raise Your Voice: Paving the Path for an Equitable Future.”
There is another area of gender equity in surgery and surgical subspecialties that is often overlooked. Surgical instruments have historically been designed for male hands. An emerging field of surgical ergonomics in the operative environment and in surgical instrumentation is bringing to light the challenges women surgeons are facing on a daily basis. These challenges directly affect their ability to practice to their full potential. It may be worthwhile to establish a task force or committee to specifically educate our members on these issues and to develop impactful relationships with industry so that instruments are designed more equitably.
Women otolaryngologists are growing in number and have valuable knowledge to share. Engaging with the Academy and presenting at the AAO-HNSF Annual Meeting & OTO Experience is one such way to enhance the visibility of the value we provide to the global otolaryngology community and patient care. Recognizing our expertise is critical and sharing it is essential.