In an issue devoted to women in medicine last month, the Dallas Medical Journal decided to ask area doctors what they thought of the fact that female physicians’ salaries are reportedly one-third less than male physicians. One male doc gave a shockingly candid and eye-opening response that is not earning him many fans in the medical community.
“Female physicians do not work as hard and do not see as many patients as male physicians,” Gary Tigges, an internal medicine doctor at Plano Internal Medicine Associates wrote. “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. Nothing needs to be ‘done’ about this unless female physicians actually want to work harder and put in the hours. If not, they should be paid less. That is fair.”
Upon reading this comment in the journal, several doctors posted it to social media.
“Thank you for publicly displaying your disgusting thoughts on the value of women physicians in the workplace,” Hala Sabry-Elnaggar wrote on Facebook. “Women physicians have been proven to put their skills into their work with better mortality outcomes and they continue to do this despite the discrimination more than 80% of them face at work. So please educate yourself beyond your medical degree about what your colleagues are doing…and how their presence is important to the healthcare team and to their patients.”
“He clearly needs more than one class in bias and reinforcing misconceptions created by our cultural constructs,” commented Jennifer Taylor in a Twitter thread.
Interestingly, the *female* communications director of the Journal intentionally published it knowing the potential backlash.https://t.co/0cqAgUuMPL
He clearly needs more than one class in bias and reinforcing misconceptions created by our cultural constructs.
— Jennifer Taylor (@lonestarjen) September 1, 2018
After the uproar over his comments, Tigges told the Dallas Morning Journal that he didn’t know his comments would be published and walked back the extent of his statement.
“My response sounds terrible and horrible and doesn’t reflect what I was really trying to say,” he told the Morning Journal.
Tigges went on to echo others’ explanations that the gap is actually due to the fact that male doctors are more likely to see more patients, while female doctors spend more time with each patient.
“That’s something we have to deal with every day; you have to work out that balance,” Tigges told the paper. “Every physician wrangles with that. But it was not my intention to say female physicians are lazy or don’t work as hard.”
In a long post on his website, Tigges apologized, writing, “I apologize to my female colleagues for these comments. These comments do not accurately reflect the the actual utmost respect I have for them and their work ethic.”
The Dallas Medical Journal says it was clear in its email that it would publish select responses in the Bright Ideas section of the journal. In a statement posted online, Gabriela M. Zandomeni, a physician and chair of the Dallas County Medical Society Communications Committee, explained why she decided to publish Tigges’ answer even though it angered her.
“I also was outraged at the many more opinions claiming that gender pay does not exist,” Zandomeni wrote. “This is not a new concept; there are many more physicians who do not see the discrimination, the misguided prejudices that influence our employment. The danger is not in this single physician’s response, however misogynistic and insulting it was. The danger is in the physicians who think this but do not express it, or who justify it: ‘Well … women have more family responsibilities, or women will have their husband’s income and treat this as a hobby,’ etc. Many of these people are in power and influence when women are offered less pay than their male counterparts. This needs to be exposed! The other part to this is apathy. When no one cares, there is no momentum for change.”
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