In late 2018, ACHE conducted the sixth in a series of studies comparing career attainments of women and men healthcare executives. ACHE has conducted these studies every five to six years since 1990. In all, 5,138 men and women members of ACHE received the 2018 study survey, although only about half, 2,566, received questions about their compensation in 2017. Of those, 769 responded for an overall response rate of 30%.
Having attained approximately equal levels of education and experience, women healthcare executives in the 2017 study on average earned about $155,200, and men earned on average about $183,700. Thus, women earned 16% less overall than men. This represents an improvement from 2012 when the gap was 20% but is similar to the findings from some of the earlier surveys (See Table 1).
Table 2 shows median 2017 salaries by position level for men and women executives in full-time positions in the study. Men at each level outearned their women counterparts, except in the category of department head and staff. For the first time since these studies began, the median salary for women in department head and staff roles drew even with that of men. The relatively lower earnings of women CEOs compared with women in other senior positions may be due to the fact that women CEOs in the study tended to work in smaller organizations than women in other senior positions.
One possible explanation for the lower median salaries for women executives is they are more likely than their male counterparts to have interrupted their careers to care for children or other reasons; however, the data show that women answering the survey who left the workforce for three months or more did not incur salary penalties compared with women who did not interrupt their careers. In fact, women with career interruptions as a group earned a median salary of $167,900 in 2017, slightly more than the $153,500 median salary for those who did not experience breaks in their careers.
ACHE wishes to thank the men and women who responded to this survey for their time, consideration and service to their profession and to healthcare management research.