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AJR November 2017

Neena Kapoor
Corresponding Author
Brigham and Women's Hospital
Harvard Medical School
Boston, MA

“Sex Differences in Radiologist Salary in U.S. Public Medical Schools”

Female academic radiologists have similar annual salaries as their male colleagues, according to a study published in the November issue of the American Journal of Roentgenology, although only 24% of radiology residents are women and women are underrepresented in journal and departmental leadership positions.

The study evaluated salary differences between male and female academic radiologists at U.S. medical schools, using salary data from 12 states and 24 public medical schools during 2011—2013. The research team led by Neena Kapoor of Harvard Medical School examined data for 573 radiologists with information on physician age, sex, faculty rank, years since residency, clinical trial involvement, National Institutes of Health funding, scientific publications, and clinical volume measured by 2013 Medicare payments. Sex difference in salary was estimated using a multilevel logistic regression adjusting for these factors.

“Among academic radiologists employed at 24 U.S. public medical schools, male and female radiologists had similar annual salaries both before and after adjusting for several variables known to influence salary among academic physicians,” the authors stated.

“Our findings reinforce that radiology has achieved a degree of sex equality that is uncommon in medicine. These results, in combination with other recent work on sex equality in radiology, could be used to encourage more women to enter this field,” the authors added.

The study, titled “Sex Differences in Radiologist Salary in U.S. Public Medical Schools,” noted that existing studies outside of radiology suggest that female academic physicians earn lower salaries than male physicians even after adjustment for several clinical and research productivity measures. The study cited a recent large analysis of academic faculty in which female physicians were estimated to earn an average of $20,000 less than their male counterparts even after adjustments.

“Our analysis adds further credence to this growing body of evidence that radiology is one of the few medical specialties that has made important advances in sex equality as it relates to promotion and payment,” the authors said. “Cultural norms and long-standing efforts within radiology to address sex disparities may have been successful.”

A national survey of 2025 radiologists in 1995 found that sex differences in several professional and practice characteristics were smaller among younger radiologists compared with older radiologists, suggesting that the career paths of female and male radiologists may be converging over time.

Although only about one-fourth of radiology residents are female, the authors stated, an analysis of 4117 applicants to one residency program between 2008 and 2014 found that, while women averaged 24% of the total applicant pool, they made up 30% of the interview pool and 38% of individuals ranked in the top 25% of applicants. Another recent analysis showed that rates of full professorship are similar between male and female academic radiologists after adjusting for age, training history, and several measures of clinical and research productivity.

“Our finding that sex differences in salary may be absent in radiology could also serve as an important recruiting tool,” the authors said. Several studies have tried to address why female medical students do not choose careers in diagnostic radiology, citing medical students’ concerns over competitiveness, the need to be comfortable with physics, and the lack of direct patient contact as potential reasons why greater numbers of women do not pursue this specialty.

“However, female medical students’ interest in radiology is associated with having a role model in this field. Thus, improving access to radiologists who are interested in mentoring trainees and promoting the various ways in which radiology provides a female-friendly work environment may increase female medical students’ interest in pursuing a career in radiology,” the authors said.

“If young women learn directly from mentors that radiology as a field seems to do a better job than most other specialties in terms of compensating and promoting physicians in a sex-blind fashion, they may well become more interested in becoming radiologists,” the authors added.


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