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Underlying causes of gender pay among surgeons in Ontario

Project ID: 2022-955/ TRIM 2023 0970 325 000
Principle Investigator: Adrienne Quirouet
Description: A gender gap in earnings among physicians has been well-documented and several hypotheses have been put forward to explain this gap. Dossa et al. (2019) demonstrates this gap in Ontario and shows that the proximate cause is a difference in “procedure mix”, where male surgeons perform a disproportionately large portion of the most highly remunerated procedure. However, the causes of this difference in procedure mix are not well understood. There are several hypotheses. First, recent work in the economics literature (Sarsons, 2019; Zeltzer, 2020) suggests that similar patterns in the United States are driven by referral bias where physicians tend to refer more challenging and better remunerative cases to male colleagues. A second hypothesis is that the difference is driven by the preference of female surgeons which are shaped by their medical training (Hill et al., 2014; Wasserman 2022). Third, in other domains (e.g. financial markets) women have been shown to have lower appetite for risk than men (see, for instance, Niessen and Ruenzi (2007)). The underlying reasons behind this gap, however, are not well understood. The goal of the proposed research is to uncover these reasons. Aside from directly addressing gender inequity, the findings of such a study will also have important implications for reforming access to specialist care (see, for instance, Quebec’s transition to centralized waitlists since 2016).
PIA Approved: January 9, 2023