“Female Physicians Do Not Work as Hard,” Claimed Physician Now Facing Backlash


Last week, Dr. Gary Tigges, an Internal Medicine physician in Plano, Texas, came under fire for a statement he made about the gender pay gap among physicians in the September edition of the Dallas Medical Journal.

Dr. Tigges’ statement was included as part of a two-page Big and Bright Ideas feature in the journal’s Women in Medicine issue, which asked physicians if they believe a pay gap exists between male and female physicians, and if so, what the cause may be, as well as what steps physicians can take to address this.

Dr. Tigges’ response read, “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. 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.”

Photos of his response quickly went viral and prompted backlash on sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and Yelp.

“Thank you for publicly displaying your disgusting thoughts on the value of women physicians in the workplace. Is this how you feel about your female patients too? That they don’t do enough? Or don’t try or work as hard because of social or personal commitments?” Dr. Hala Sabry-Elnaggar wrote in response to Tigges’ statement in a Facebook post displaying a photo of the letter. Her post went on to say, “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,” and it was signed, “Sincerely, A woman physician who prioritizes her patients.”

Dr. Sabry-Elnaggar wasn’t the only one to speak out against Tigges’ statement; her post alone generated more than 1,200 comments and was shared more than 5,600 times.

Another Facebook post made by Dr. Jean Robey, which features the same image of Tigges’ statement as Dr. Sabry-Elnaggar’s, said, in part, “I trained and practice in an environment that treated my sex like a handicap I needed to own and account for. I was asked what disadvantage my sex was the first day and I was shocked to know I had one and only responded with my perceived disadvantage is my advantage because society and people like you discounted me and my contribution from day one. You would be pressed to find my compassion and intuition and empath and intellect in a male or in another to lay claim that I automatically underachieve or unaccomplished or undercontribute. I will never tolerate being paid less because I’m a woman or to accept the idea that women even with their other demands and roles shouldn’t be supported in medicine or any field to participate in the solution. I will never be unfair but it is bold to say sir that you can simply quantify the disparity in pay because of the disparity in contributions. You will grow to see that more times than not you needed a woman leading and helping. You wait till your loved ones fall ill or you are older and vulnerable. You will be quite remorseful to ever state such sentiments.”

Since its publication, Dr. Tigges has walked back his statement and claims it has been taken out of context, that he did not mean to imply women should earn less for equal work. “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.”

Tigges also stated that he heard from “several trusted female physician colleagues who disagree with and are deeply hurt and offended” by his comments.

Disclaimer: The viewpoint expressed in this article is the opinion of the author and is not necessarily the viewpoint of the owners or employees at Healthcare Staffing Innovations, LLC.

4 Comments

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  1. 1
    Walter Boutwell

    This sounds like it has an answer. If there is data then it should be presented. A simple study showing number of patients and hours worked should do it. We could have it done within a month.
    My personal bias is that since 1964, when it was required that equal work gets equal pay, the question about the amount of take home pay is properly out of the public arena. If people are not being paid for equal work, this becomes of judicial concern and smart people would be told to dummy up by their lawyers until it were settled. If people are being paid equally, any pay gap is due to how people work and again not open to discussion.

  2. 2
    George L Spaeth

    `Dr. Tiggs comments are sad, but understandable. Groups that were “on top,” whether justifiable or unjustifiably, are understandably troubled when then are no longer on top. But, as with every other generic label, “women” includes many varieties. As a physician who has practiced for over 50 years and has observed changes occurring, it seems to me that -often – women tend to be more detail oriented and more likely to consider patients as unique individuals, and as such to give “better care” than men, but certainly not always.It is a joy to see women balancing lives of child-rearing, husband-pleasing AND doctoring, and often other activities as well, in ways that make many men’s lives seem sadly unbalanced. Yes, women may need to take time off to care for newborns, or infants, or older children. Husbands should, also have been doing this all along; had they done so it may be that the world would be in a better place than it is now.

  3. 3
    Therese M Lango, MD, FACC

    As a female interventional cardiologist I have worked usually a 100 or more hour week. My children are well known to the hospital staff as they often spent time at nurses stations and Cath lab control both waiting for me. I am The de facto head of a 7 man group of which I a m one of the “men” so please let Dr Tiggers know he can kiss my pink clad leads cause he doesn’t have it right. By the way, I dont have a housekeeper, a nanny or a wife do do those other jobs I have

  4. 4
    Paul D Sovran MD

    It is unfortunate that the politics of personal destruction have spread far and wide from Washington DC. It seems many of the comments directed at Dr Tigges involve disparagement of him personally. A more reasoned discussion might have revolved around the points, “do female physicians who work as many hours as male physicians get paid the same?” Well of course they should be. I dont think anyone would, or should, disagree with that. The second point of discussion should be, do female physicians who work less hours or see fewer patients, or whatever measurement you choose, get paid less than full time physicians, male or female? People who work less should be paid less. This issue frequently arises in larger practices where the more senior physicians want to start cutting back , and the younger docs who are putting in the longer hours are resentful, but that is another discussion. Even outside the political realm, more and more, discussions deteriorate into personal attacks. That is not a good portent for the future.

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