Are you a married woman applying for a new job? You’d better tell your employer that you’re a single mom. A new study reported in the journal Academic Medicine revealed a large discrepancy between the salary of new male and female physicians, with men taking home over $10,000 a year more than their female counterparts. Age didn’t explain the difference in pay, nor did specialty, academic rank, work hours, time spent researching or any of the many other factors they examined –except one. One-third of the gender difference in pay was explained by spousal employment. Basically, If your spouse is employed, you make less money. The study’s authors suggest, “Employers may feel that men who are supporting a family deserve a higher salary than women whom they do not view as principal breadwinners.” In other words, pay is not dependent on performance or credentials, but instead on gender-based assumptions about providing for a family.
Pay discrepancies that start early on in a career are likely to get larger with time, and, unfortunately, these pay discrepancies are not limited to the medical profession. Women, find out what your worth, and make sure you’re getting it before you take that job. And, most of all, don’t mention that you’re married!