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AAP: Female Pediatricians Earn Less Than Male Pediatricians and Do More at Home


More women are working today as pediatricians, yet women earn significantly less than men in similar positions. They also spend more time on household responsibilities and report feeling less satisfied with their work-life balance.

Those are the findings of two critical papers published from the American Academy of Pediatrics’ (AAP) Pediatrician Life and Career Experience Study (PLACES), a long-term study of early and mid-career pediatricians. The studies, “Gender Differences in Pediatricians’ Earnings of Early- and Mid-career Pediatricians,” and “Gender Discrepancies Related to Pediatrician Work-Life Balance and Household Responsibilities,” will be published in the October 2019 Pediatrics (published online Sept. 10).

“There is a well-known gender gap in earnings in the United States, and we found that pediatricians reflect that imbalance,” said Bobbi J. Byrne, MD, FAAP, an author on both papers. “Women earn less than men, even when personal and professional characteristics are taken into account, such as whether they have children, the number of hours they work, and their clinical specialty.”

“We found that female pediatricians do most of the household work, like meal preparation, cleaning, and routine care of children,” said Amy J. Starmer, MD, MPH, FAAP, an author on both papers. “We know that work-life balance is important for career satisfaction and productivity. This is an area that deserves focused attention.”

About 1,000 early and mid-career pediatricians were surveyed in 2016 for the earnings study. The average annual earnings of PLACES participants, who were five to 14 years past residency, was $190,000. When considering pay differences, researchers took into account many factors including work hours, subspecialty training, ownership (of practice) status and geographic location.

The analysis found:

  • Even in the best-case scenario, when adjusting for all available factors, women earned 94% of what men earned, a gap of about $8,000 per year at the early and mid-career stage.

  • Using an estimated 3% inflation each year, a discrepancy of $8,000 is estimated to amount to $229,000 over 20 years and $400,000 over 30 years.

  • Before any adjustment for personal and professional characteristics, women earned 76% of what men earn, or about $51,000 less per year.

Nearly 1,300 pediatricians also were surveyed on characteristics of their work-life balance in 2015. The research found:

  • Female pediatricians are more likely to report having the primary responsibility for 13 of 16 tasks such as cleaning, cooking, and routine care of their children. For example, 62% of women and 17% of men reported having primary responsibility for laundry, and 52% of women and 6% of men reported being primarily responsible for their child’s homework.

  • About half of women and one-third of men reported hiring help for cleaning, and fewer reported hiring help for other household responsibilities.

  • Women were more likely than men to report feeling rushed and were less likely to report achieving success in balancing their job as a pediatrician with other areas of their life.

“Leaders in the field of pediatrics need to make sure that we appropriately value and compensate all pediatricians fairly and equitably for the good of our profession,” said Gary Freed, MD, MPH, FAAP, an author on both papers.

Six of every 10 U.S. pediatricians are women; seven in 10 graduating pediatric residents are women, according to workforce data.

“Compared to past generations, pediatrics has made strides in increasing workplace flexibility, yet women still face challenges with professional advancement,” said Kyle Yasuda, MD, FAAP, president of the AAP. “The Academy is committed to the support of gender equity in the pediatric workforce.  The information in these studies provides data to inform the profession’s discussion on the current status of gender equity and strategies needed going forward.”

PLACES, launched in 2012, is an ongoing study of early to mid-career pediatricians tracking the careers of those who completed residency in 2002-04 and 2009-11.  The project includes a representative mix of general pediatricians, subspecialists and hospitalists, and includes both AAP members and nonmembers. This project will continue to gather the perspective of pediatricians starting their careers, with new participants who finished residency in 2016-2018 to be included in future analysis.

Also available is a solicited commentary, “The Gender Wage Gap in Pediatrics: Are things getting better or worse?” published in the same Pediatrics issue.


The American Academy of Pediatrics is an organization of 67,000 primary care pediatricians, pediatric medical subspecialists and pediatric surgical specialists dedicated to the health, safety and well-being of infants, children, adolescents and young adults. For more information, visit and follow us on Twitter @AmerAcadPeds