A Texas doctor apologized Sunday after being abused on social media for his published opinion that female physicians should work harder if they want to make the same as their male counterparts, according to the Washington Post.
Gary Tigges, who started his own internal medicine practice in Plano in 1996, said he didn't know his comments would be published in the Dallas Medical Journal under the "Big and Bright Ideas" section.
"My response sounds terrible and horrible and doesn't reflect what I was really trying to say,” Tigges told the Dallas Morning News last week. “I'm not saying female physicians should be paid less, but they earn less because of other factors."
What did he say?
It's unclear what Tigges was responding to, or what prompted him to make the comments. Here's what he said:
Yes, there is a pay gap. Female physicians do not work as hard, and they 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.
Tigges claimed that his comments were taken out of context, although the parts that most people are upset about seem rather straightforward.
"I have heard from several trusted female physician colleagues who disagree with and are deeply hurt and offended by the comments," Tigges said. "I sincerely apologize to all female physicians for my comments and the pain they have caused."
Why his comments angered people
It is true that male doctors earn more than females in the same fields; it's even true that male doctors tend to see more patients and work longer hours. In that, Tigges is factually correct. However, Tigges' characterization of why that disparity exists didn't acknowledge the reasons why many women are unable to work as many hours as they might want to.
Studies have shown that female physicians with children work about 11 hours fewer per week than childless female physicians. Additionally, those women usually carry a heavier portion of burden of taking care of the kids.
While the Dallas Medical Journal received some criticism for publishing Tigges' comments, they had a reason for doing so: The problem can only be properly addressed if the perspective is out in the open.
“The danger is in the physicians who think this but do not express it, or who justify it," Gabriela Zandomeni, chair of the committee that publishes the journal, wrote.