Academic Radiology Only Specialty With Equal Pay for Males, Females

Radiologist salaries are equal between male and female physicians, unlike other academic medical specialists.

Radiology is the only academic medical specialty in which females are paid at the same levels or higher as their male counterparts, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Researchers from Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital, in Boston, and the National Bureau of Economic Research in Cambridge, MA, analyzed the sex differences in earnings among academic physicians in the U.S. The researchers used salary data of public university employees published online. They extracted salary information from 24 public medical schools for a total of 10,241 academic physicians; 3,549 were female. Salaries were adjusted for sex, age, years of experience, faculty rank, specialty, scientific authorship, National Institutes of Health funding, clinical trial participation, and Medicare reimbursements.

The results showed that with the exception of radiology, female physicians had a lower mean unadjusted salary than male physicians, and sex difference continued after making the adjustments:

 Female PhysiciansMale PhysiciansAbsolute Difference
Unadjusted Salaries$206,641$257,957$51,315
After Multivariable Adjustment$227,783$247,661$19,878






The difference in salaries varied widely among specialties, with the highest difference in male salaries versus female salaries seen in orthopedic surgery and the lowest in family medicine. Radiology was the only specialty with the reverse trend:

 Female PhysiciansMale Physicians
Orthopedic Surgery$327,118$368,070
Family Medicine$185,635$191,879
Emergency Medicine$214,007$234,997










Radiology, family medicine, and emergency medicine had the smallest differences between female and male physician salaries. Years of experience, total publications, clinical trial participation, and Medicare payments were positively associated with salary, the researchers noted. Among faculty, female full professors also made lower salaries, comparable to male associate professors ($250,971 compared with $247,212, respectively).

“Among academic physicians in 24 US public medical schools, annual salaries of female physicians were substantially lower than those of male physicians after adjustment for a rich set of factors that influence salary,” the researchers concluded. “Nearly 40 percent of the unadjusted difference in mean salaries between men and women remained unexplained after adjustment for these potential confounders.”