Intended for healthcare professionals


The gender pay gap: female doctors still earn a third less than male doctors

BMJ 2017; 357 doi: (Published 28 April 2017) Cite this as: BMJ 2017;357:j1967
  1. Abi Rimmer
  1. BMJ Careers
  1. arimmer{at}

Across all employment sectors in the UK, female workers earn less than their male counterparts. This gender pay gap has continued despite repeated efforts to tackle the underlying factors.

In medicine, even though nationally agreed salary scales should eliminate the effects of individuals negotiating their own pay, the pay gap is wider than in other professions and employment sectors. Data from the Office for National Statistics on median annual gross pay show that, in 2016, female doctors working full time earned 34% less a year than their male counterparts.

Overall, the pay gap in medicine has grown over the past decade. In 2006, female doctors earned 24% less than their male colleagues. The gap fell to 23% in 2007 before rising to 39% in 2010, and falling again to 34% in 2016. Since 2008, female doctors working full time have consistently earned a third less than male doctors.

The gap is wider for doctors than for other groups. On average, across all employment groups, women working full time earn 19% less than men. Female accountants earn 19% less, female pharmacists earn 18% less, female solicitors earn 12% less, and female health service and social care managers earn 11% less.

Doctors’ leaders and the government are seeking to understand and tackle the pay gap in medicine. In July 2016, Jeremy Hunt, the health secretary for England, announced that he would commission an independent report on how to reduce and eliminate it.1

Since April 2017 employers in the UK with more than 250 staff, such as NHS trusts, have been required by law to publish gender pay gap and gender bonus gap information on their own website and on a government website.2 The BMA has said that, although this measure will highlight the problem, more needs to be done. Anthea Mowat, BMA representative body chair, said, “It’s vitally important that we tackle the root causes of the gender pay gap, and develop a wider programme of work to eliminate it.”