Women in general surgery expect to earn much less than male counterparts — 4 study insights

Female general surgeons underestimate their future earnings and don't feel as comfortable as men negotiating higher salaries, according to an LA BioMed study.

The nonprofit biomedical research organization sent questionnaires to 607 general surgical residents at 19 residency programs across the U.S., and more than 70 percent completed the survey. Forty-four percent were female.

Here are four takeaways:

1. Female surgeons' idea of an ideal salary post-residency was about $30,000 a year less than what men expected, on average. Over a 30-year career, that difference adds up to nearly $1 million.

2. Women surveyed weren't as comfortable as men asking for more money. They were significantly less likely than men to feel they had the proper negotiating tools and found the idea of negotiating less appealing than men did.

3. However, male and female respondents reported no difference in the number of hours they planned to work or their desire to hold leadership positions or pursue research.

4. Female respondents also believed they'd have more responsibilities at home compared to men.

"Our study helps us better understand gender salary disparities in surgery," said Kelsey Gray, MD, general surgery chief resident at Torrance, Calif.-based UCLA-Harbor Medical Center.

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