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Invited Commentary
November 10, 2021

Surgeon’s Sex Affects the Number and Types of Referrals Received—We Know the System Is Broken…Now Let’s Fix It

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Surgery, Medical College of Georgia at Augusta University, Augusta
JAMA Surg. 2022;157(2):103-104. doi:10.1001/jamasurg.2021.5765

Sex differences in physician salary persist, with the largest pay gap in surgical subspecialties.1 The explanations for sex pay gap remain elusive, despite accounting for multiple factors.2 Although anecdotally lifestyle choices by female surgeons have been considered a contributing factor to sex pay gap, no data support this common misconception. Practicing surgeons often depend on referrals from physician colleagues, and factors influencing surgeon referral are not well understood. We have often attributed low referrals to an individual failure. As we have begun to understand systemic bias, one must question whether gender differences in referral exist and could help explain differences in productivity and compensation. In this article, Dossa and colleagues3 investigate if a surgeon’s sex influences the number and types of referrals they receive from physicians and other surgeons.

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