Glass Ceiling Not Always Bad? Only 3 of Top Pharma-Earning Docs Are Women

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Want to avoid seeing a doctor who earns big bucks from drug companies?  You might want to choose a female physician, if the statistics from ProPublica’s investigation of the doctors who earn the most money in consulting and speaking fees from drug companies are anything to go by.

Of the 43 doctors who earned over $200,000 in Big Pharma money, just three were women — and no women at all were among the top ten moneymakers.  Part of this may simply be demographics. Although women in medical school equal — and in some medical specialties, outnumber — men, in overall practice, only about 28% of doctors are female, according to the American Medical Association. The fewer female docs in the field, the fewer there are to feed at the big pharma trough. (More on Explaining the Complicated Women + Math Formula).

Another possibility may be that plenty of women do accept drug company cash, they’re just less aggressive about the fees they demand, keeping them out of the top tier of earners. Studies have shown that women as a whole are more flexible in financial negotiations than men. But a scan of the entire list of 384 pharma-consulting docs for female names reveals fewer than 50, which would place the percentage of women who receive any pharma fees at all at under 15%, or a little more than half of their total representation in  the ranks of all doctors. Score one for the non-mercenary women — and for Hippocrates.

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