The vast majority of PAs are women—but the men get paid more, study finds

Female physician assistants (PAs) in 2014 were paid 89 cents for every dollar that their male counterparts maid— an "unacceptable" trend in a health profession that's nearly 70 percent female, according to new research from the American Academy of PAs (AAPA), Joanne Finnegan writes for FierceHealthcare

Study details

For the study, published in Women's Health Issues, researchers assessed data that AAPA collected on over 7,000 PAs between 1998 and 2014.

The study found that female PAs in 2014 were paid 11 percent—or $9,695—less than their male counterparts. Without controlling for factors such as experience and specialty, female PAs in 2014 were compensated $16,052 less than male PAs, according to the study.

Further, according to the study, "The median total compensation for female Pas has consistently been around 87 percent of that of male PAs over the past 17 years." The researchers said the data indicate "the gap is not closing, and this is consistent just as with physician compensation.

To address the wage gap, the researcher suggested employers rely on experience, job duties, and skills to determine how much an employee should be paid, rather than relying on previous salaries.

A 'simply unacceptable' trend, AAPA says

In a press release on the study's findings, L. Gail Curtis, president and chair of AAPA's board of directors, said, "The disparate treatment of women in the PA profession is simply unacceptable."

She explained that while 89 cents-to-the-dollar disparity between male and female PA compensation is not as substantial as the national average of 82-cents-to-the-dollar, as reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the difference is particularly problematic because the PA position is one of the fastest growing professions in the health care industry (Finnegan, FierceHealthcare, 9/15; AAPA press release, 9/14).

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