Gendered Innovations in Orthopaedic Science: Show Me the Money

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While passing years increase my cynicism, I still refuse to believe that pecuniary motivations drive medical students to our field. When I made my choice to work in orthopaedics, mired in educational debt (paltry by current standards), the idea of positive cash flow seemed a mirage. Rather, orthopaedic work was exciting, we made most patients better, and the residents and attendings were much happier than those on the general surgery service. Even now, a good day in the operating room can leave me thinking, “Wow, I would pay for the opportunity to have this much fun!” We are fortunate to be compensated for such enjoyable work. And as orthopaedic surgeons repeatedly take the top slot in physician-compensation reports, placing above most other wage-earners in the country, I feel I should be content with my compensation. But sort of like discovering the person sitting next to you on the plane paid USD 300 less for his ticket—perspective is everything. Realizing that the man behind the scalpel in the next room may earn 20% more for the same work that I do in my room dampens my enthusiasm and can feed cynicism among women in our field.
That men are paid more than women for the same work is not news. But until recently, I naively assumedly that was an issue for other professions. However, a few recent studies opened my eyes—Medscape's 2016 annual physician compensation report [13] found that men in orthopaedic surgery earn on average USD 53,000 more than women (USD 448,000 for men versus USD 395,000 for women). Another recent study [8] found a similar gender discrepancy for orthopaedic surgeons in academic practice.
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