Career Goals, Salary Expectations, and Salary Negotiation among Male and Female General Surgery Residents

Kelsey Gray, Angela Neville, Amy H. Kaji, Mary Wolfe, Kristine Calhoun, Farin Amersi, Timothy Donahue, Tracy Arnell, Benjamin Jarman, Kenji Inaba, Marc Melcher, Jon B. Morris, Brian Smith, Mark Reeves, Jeffrey Gauvin, Edgardo S. Salcedo, Richard Sidwell, Kenric Murayama, Richard Damewood, V. Prasad PoolaDaniel Dent, Christian De Virgilio

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Importance: In general surgery, women earn less money and hold fewer leadership positions compared with their male counterparts. Objective: To assess whether differences exist between the perspectives of male and female general surgery residents on future career goals, salary expectations, and salary negotiation that may contribute to disparity later in their careers. Design, Setting, and Participants: This study was based on an anonymous and voluntary survey sent to 19 US general surgery programs. A total of 606 categorical residents at general surgery programs across the United States received the survey. Data were collected from August through September 2017 and analyzed from September through December 2017. Main Outcomes and Measures: Comparison of responses between men and women to detect any differences in career goals, salary expectation, and perspectives toward salary negotiation at a resident level. Results: A total of 427 residents (70.3%) responded, and 407 responses (230 male [58.5%]; mean age, 30.0 years [95% CI, 29.8-30.4 years]) were complete. When asked about salary expectation, female residents had lower expectations compared with men in minimum starting salary ($249502 [95% CI, $236815-$262 190] vs $267700 [95% CI, $258964-$276437]; P =.003) and in ideal starting salary ($334709 [95% CI, $318431-$350987] vs $364663 [95% CI, $351612-$377715]; P <.001). Women also had less favorable opinions about salary negotiation. They were less likely to believe they had the tools to negotiate (33 of 177 [18.6%] vs 73 of 230 [31.7%]; P =.03) and were less likely to pursue other job offers as an aid in negotiating a higher salary (124 of 177 [70.1%] vs 190 of 230 [82.6%]; P =.01). Female residents were also less likely to be married (61 of 177 [34.5%] vs 116 of 230 [50.4%]; P =.001), were less likely to have children (25 of 177 [14.1%] vs 57 of 230 [24.8%]; P =.008), and believed they would have more responsibility at home than their significant other (77 of 177 [43.5%] vs 35 of 230 [15.2%]; P <.001). Men and women anticipated working the same number of hours, expected to retire at the same age, and had similar interest in holding leadership positions, having academic careers, and pursuing research. Conclusions and Relevance: This study found no difference in overall career goals between male and female residents; however, female residents' salary expectations were lower, and they viewed salary negotiation less favorably. Given the current gender disparities in salary and leadership within surgery, strategies are needed to help remedy this inequity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1023-1029
Number of pages7
JournalJAMA Surgery
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2019
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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