Published 1:51 p.m. UTC Sep 3, 2018
A Texas doctor has apologized for his comments to a medical journal that his female physicians are paid less because they don't work as hard.
"I sincerely apologize to all female physicians for my comments and the pain they have caused," Dr. Gary Tigges said in a statement Sunday.
He earlier told the Dallas Morning News that his comments in the two-page feature published in the September issue of Dallas Medical Journal were taken out of context and that he did not know they would be made public.
"Yes, there is a pay gap," Tigges wrote in the feature addressing a report that women physicians' salaries are about two-thirds of their male colleagues. "Female physicians do not work as hard and do not see as many patients as male physicians.
"This is because they choose to, or they simply don't want to be rushed, or they don't want to work the long hours. Most of the time, their priority is something else," he wrote. "Family, social, whatever."
The comments appeared in the journal's "Women in Medicine Issue." Tigges, 53, who practices internal medicine at Plano Internal Medicine Associates in Plano, Texas, was one of eight responses published.
"Nothing needs to be 'done' about this unless female physicians actually want to work harder and put in the hours," he wrote in his response. "If not, they should be paid less. That is fair."
His comments sparked outrage on Facebook, Twitter and Yelp, prompting dozens of angry retorts. He has since deleted his Twitter account and the website of the practice he founded in 1996 is no longer accessible. The practice's Yelp page has been overrun with critical comments.
Even though they have made up roughly half of medical student graduates for years, female doctors make less than their male peers — no matter where they live or their specialty.
The pay gap for female doctors in the U.S. is growing wider, according to a recent survey by Doximity, a social networking service for health care professionals. Women earned an average of 27.7 percent less — an average of $105,000 a year — than their male counterparts in 2017, the survey found.
In April, another Medscape’s latest Physician Compensation Report found that a sizable gender pay gap exists for primary care physicians and an even bigger one, 36 percent, for specialists.
A number of possible causes have been cited including specialty choice, years of experience, number of hours worked, choices made to balance work and family and the lack of role models and mentors. Yet, researchers find these disparities even when controlling for these factors. Minority female doctors face even greater barriers.
Women make up more than one third of physicians and nearly half of all physicians-in-training.
Tigges told the Dallas Morning News he regretted the comments, which he wrote in response to an email from the Dallas County Medical Society. He told the newspaper he did not know they would be published.
He based the comments on data showing that women often earn less because they see fewer patients or work fewer hours due to family or other obligations.
"My response sounds terrible and horrible and doesn't reflect what I was really trying to say," Tigges said. "I'm not saying female physicians should be paid less, but they earn less because of other factors."
Gabriela Zandomeni, a Dallas physician who chairs the committee that publishes the Dallas Medical Journal, said the committee chose to publish Tigges' perspective because it's widely held, the Washington Post reported.