Thank You, Gary Tigges

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“Yes, there is a pay gap. 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 … family, social, whatever.” — Gary Tigges

In response to this well-reported observation, Gary Tigges, I want to say, “thank you.” That’s right. Are you surprised? Let me explain: My response here is “thank you,” not because I agree with you at all since I don’t. Rather, I want to thank you for your infuriating words because they have generated a massive media response calling attention to the gender unfairness inherent to the medical profession.

I want to thank you for lighting fire in so many women physicians and encouraging them to band together to expose the falsities that you spewed in the Dallas Medical Journal. I want to thank you for providing such an unpolished quote that includes the word, “whatever,” highlighting how misinformed you actually are.

I want to thank you for your initial response in which you stated, “My response sounds terrible and horrible and doesn’t reflect what I was really trying to say… I’m not saying female physicians should be paid less, but they earn less because of other factors.”

It was maybe just as bad if not worse than your original quote! Again, I thank you for trying to clarify that we earn less because of “other factors.” Thank you for bringing to light this massive problem. Do you want to know what I think? You probably don’t, but just in case, I think women should earn more than men because of these other “factors,” that you cite here. Women should earn more than men because they also often care for kids, juggle social priorities, and household responsibilities while working just as hard, if not harder than male counterparts. One might argue our time is more valuable.

This doesn’t even begin to address the issue of trainee reimbursements. I can recall numerous times when I stayed later than my male resident colleagues and saw double the number of patients. Does that mean that male residents should make less? Technically, according to your argument, they should. The fact that residents are paid the same regardless of gender is an interesting tidbit to consider. They’re still paid incredibly low amounts and represent cheap labor for hospitals everywhere (but that is an entirely different conversation altogether).

I’ve worked alongside Kim Templeton through my leadership roles within the American Medical Women’s Association in the past and I agree with her in saying, “Some people have said women doctors don’t see as many patients as male doctors because they have other responsibilities at home with kids. That’s why they make less. Decades later, the assumption is that [male doctors] should make more because they are taking care of the family.” Together, let’s all thank Gary Tigges for generating so much awareness and the opportunity to change this dynamic.

Lastly, thank you for apologizing for your original comment, Gary. Everyone makes mistakes and I think acknowledging these moments and learning from these experiences is what is truly most important.

Dr. Cherilyn Cecchini is a pediatrician and a 2018–2019 Doximity Author.

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