Gender gap: why male medical sales professionals continue to bank

The gender gap has narrowed for many industries, allowing males and females to work and earn equally. While this is great progress, the wage gap continues to exist in the medical sales profession. So, why do men continue to earn more? Robyn Melhuish discusses.

In many industries, the gender gap has narrowed, allowing both males and females to work and earn equally. While this is obviously great progress, other industries still see a gender gap in terms of wages. This is largely apparent in the medical sales space.

Case in point: A recent medical sales salary report indicated that men report an average base salary five percent higher than women. Additionally, men’s average total income is 20 percent higher. In 2012, this difference was one percent and 15 percent, respectively.

“While women are continuing to move up the management ladder, they may still not be on par with men.”

Though these numbers may paint a grim picture, there are a few reasons why the gender wage gap continues to exist in the medical sales profession:

Positions held

While women are continuing to move up the management ladder, they may still not be on par with men. According to the report, men still hold the majority of medical sales management positions – 87 percent to be exact. Women only hold 13 percent of all sales management titles such as sales manager, sales director and VP of sales.

In any profession, more responsibility likely results in more money. In the end, this is a large factor in the medical sales gender wage gap.

Products sold

Male medical sales professionals also tend to sell higher value products than women. Medical sales encompasses everything from devices and equipment, to supplies and disposables, to home healthcare and health IT. However, men are far more likely to sell the more expensive medical devices and biotech products, which resulted in a higher income. For example, in medical and surgical device sales, 77 percent of workers are men, whereas women only accounted for 23 percent.

Commission obtained

If male medical sales professionals make more based on products sold and the positions they’ve held, they likely earn more commission than women. As noted, base salaries reported by men and women are similar, but the amount of commissions earned by each group varies significantly, largely contributing to the gender wage gap. According to the salary report, men make an average commission of $59,243 while women earn about $35,448.

Travel

Many medical sales professionals also make more money when they travel overnight for their jobs. For example, those professionals who traveled 25 percent of the time earned commissions of about $52,796. This was on top of an average base of $86,235. Income increases as the amount of travel goes up with those who travel 50 percent of the time earning the most.

Both male and female medical sales professionals obviously travel for work. However, women with families may be more inclined to work closer to their base. It should also be noted that while the attitude towards working while handling a family has obviously changed, women may still have to catch up to men in this department. So, when the opportunity arises to make more money or amp up commission on the road, the gold may go to men rather than women.

 
“…men are far more likely to sell the more expensive medical devices and biotech products…”

Length of time in the industry

Many reports indicate that women leave the workforce earlier than men. For instance, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the participation rate of women in the workplace has dropped from a high of 60.7 percent in 1999 to 58.8 percent today. In comparison, 72.5 percent of men are either working or looking for a job. Again, this may be because many women leave when they start a family. Either way, men tend to stay in the medical sales profession longer than women, which indicate higher earnings than women who chose to split.

Though the gender wage gap exists in the medical sales profession, it’s important to note some key factors as to why it’s apparent. Knowing this, we can better understand the profession and how we can improve salary conditions for both groups.

What do you think? Do you think there’s a gender wage gap? Are there any other reasons why you think male medical sales professional make more than women?

 

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About the author:

Robyn Melhuish is the Communications Manager at MedReps.com, a job board which gives members access to the most sought after medical sales jobs and pharmaceutical sales jobs on the Web. Connect with Robyn and MedReps.com on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

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