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The New York Times reported this morning on a new study of physician pay. The conclusion was that the pay gap between new (just finishing residency or fellowship) male physicians and new female physicians is actually larger now (adjusted for inflation) than it was in 1999. This is not good. It is also not explained in their analyses by differences in hours worked, specialty choice, practice setting, or other observed characteristics. The authors suggest that this widening gap may be explained in part by a disproportionate number of female physicians taking jobs with practices that offer “greater flexibility and family-friendly attributes…that come at the price of commensurately lower pay.”

I can’t decide how to react. On the one hand, I appreciate the increasing flexibility I’ve observed in medical practice, and understand that these benefits are likely to come with trade-offs. On the other hand, I’m frustrated at the idea that only women are interested in these benefits, or even that disproportionate numbers of women are interested in these benefits, and maybe even a little angry that it’s still okay to expect that a physician forgo all aspects of non-work life in order to be at the top of the profession. While I know it’s unreasonable, there’s a part of me that wants everyone to HAVE to have a life, so that I don’t feel behind if I choose to have one. What’s a girl to do?