Today marks Equal Pay Day, the National Committee on Pay Equity explaining the date symbolizing how far into the year women must work to earn what men earned in the previous year. Dr. Patricia Bath has experienced throughout her career the looming presence of gender disparity in pay or research allocations in academia.

The AAMC Faculty Salary Report FY 2019 was presented in February of this year, where they broke down average salaries by gender for the first time as part of the AAMC’s gender equity initiative to guide academic medicine in addressing gender-based inequities. The graph above illustrates the pay gap specific to MD Clinical Faculty, it’s important to notice that women’s average salaries are lower than men’s at the instructor level and fall further behind at higher ranks.

In “Sex Differences in Salaries of Department Chairs at Public Medical Schools,” an academic paper published this month in JAMA Internal Medicine, there is further research and proof about the gender gap, specific to the clinical department chairs in academic medicine. In focusing on the gender gaps of department chairs, the infographic made by the AAMC 2019 Report makes a larger point that the wage gap based on gender is significantly sizeable when going up the higher ranks. 

Dr. Patricia Bath’s career in science and academia further proves the point with all of her ‘first’ recognitions throughout her life, where her presence in high ranking positions was quite literally the firsts for the institute, state, and or country. We can only imagine that this was a lonely time for Dr. Bath to be the outlier amongst her peers and that there were not many who could commiserate with her.

However, this did not derail Dr. Bath and her path to creating opportunities for people’s access to ophthalmology. Dr. Bath’s presence in the science and health care systems created space and paths for the future individuals.

We would like to emphasize and recognize that the wage gap is even greater for women of color, especially for Black, Latinx, and Indigenous women or non-binary individuals. Mentioned during #NationalDoctorsDay, Dr. Patricia Bath had her time in experiencing gender inequality as well as racial inequality throughout her life, but especially in her scientific and academic career. She expressed that she had hoped future scientists and inventors would be recognized for their work and not by their gender, race, socioeconomic status, etc.

Click here to see the full article for the AAMA Faculty Salary Surveys and here for the academic paper, “Sex Differences in Salaries of Department Chairs at Public Medical Schools” by Whitney H. Beeler, Reshma Jagsi, Eleni Linos, Christina Mangurian, Michael Mensah, Lisa Rotenstein, and Joanne Spetz.