Male physicians earned $239,000 this year, compared to females' $203,000, according to a Medscape survey of more than 20,000 physicians. Male specialists earned about 36 percent more than female specialists.
"Women physicians are good at negotiating for patients and arguing to get what we need for them, but when it comes to ourselves, it's more difficult to do," said Theresa Rohr-Kirchgraber, MD, executive director of Indianapolis-based Indiana University National Center of Excellence in Women's Health.
Experts and physicians who teach negotiation skills shared nine tips to help female physicians negotiate higher salaries and better benefits:
1. Tactfully ask male and female physicians with similar experience in your specialty what they are earning. Be prepared for people to decline sharing.
2. Research the organization's finances, including how well it's doing and where it's planning to allocate budgets.
3. Negotiate more than salary. If you're offered a sign-on bonus, ask for double that amount. If you're not offered one, ask for it. You can also negotiate getting a committee seat, additional duties, time off, clinic or lab space, licensing fees or office or lab assistance.
4. When negotiating, repeat the same response if pushed for a different answer. This is called the "broken record" technique. Have a rationale tied to the response. Avoid accepting verbal promises on future raises.
5. Ask for promotions and challenging opportunities. Senior leadership candidates should negotiate with prospective employers for nomination and sponsorship in professional development programs.
6. Don't disqualify yourself from a higher-level position by thinking you must be an expert in every aspect of the job posting.
7. If a prospective employer asks about your current salary, don't tell them what it is. Because many female physicians earn less than men, they might use current salary information to make an offer that is less than they were planning to offer.
8. If a prospective employer asks about your spouse's employment status, be assertive and state the position has nothing to do with your spouse. Don't discuss family responsibilities during negotiation, because employers might assume it would affect productivity and use it to offer less money.
9. Once employed, keep a detailed record of your accomplishments and ask for an annual review if you don't already have one.