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Gender pay divide

Cate Swannell
Med J Aust
Published online: 18 March 2013

Australian research has put a dollar value on the gender pay gap, showing that general practitioners who are mothers earn up to $105 000 a year less than male GPs with children.

The take-home pay of female GPs with children was also $25 000 less than their childless female colleagues.

Led by University of Melbourne health economist Professor Tony Scott, the research analysed data from 3618 GPs as part of the Medicine in Australia: Balancing Employment and Life (MABEL) panel survey.

It found that while women with children work fewer hours, “doctor dads” worked longer and harder.

“Male GPs with children seem to work longer hours in order to be the responsible ‘breadwinner’ as their partners take time off”, Professor Scott said. “This does suggest that a traditional male gender role still dominates.”

He added that this behaviour change also increased the gap in earnings between male and female doctors.

As for the salary slump female GP mums experienced, the data did not show signs of a catch-up to former take-home pay levels.

“We did look at those over the age of 40 and those under 40 and results were fairly similar. Those over 40 still experienced these [pay] differences. Research of other occupations has also found that the earnings differential [between men and women] is persistent over time.”

Professor Scott said the results highlighted a need for more flexibility in medical training programs and medical jobs in order to maintain the participation of women in the medical workforce.

The study was published by the Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research and funded from a National Health and Medical Research Council Centre of Research Excellence in Medical Workforce Dynamics.

  • Cate Swannell


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