Corporate optometry can be a great career for the young entrepreneurial OD. There is a plethora of wonderful opportunities for the ambitious and the ability to pursue multiple locations. However, today 70 percent of graduating optometry classes are female. Is there a gender pay gap in corporate optometry that involves ODs, opticians and even leadership?

WAGE DIFFERENCES

According to the AOA, “even with its changing demographics, optometry hasn’t escaped the gender pay gap. The latest AOA Survey of Optometry Practice (2015) found female practice owners earned about $41,000 less than their male counterparts in 2014, or about 33 percent less.

“As mentioned by Women In Optometry, the 2011 ECP Compensation Study found that among employed ODs there was a pay gap of more than 18 percent and ODs who were owners and partners had a pay gap of more than 26 percent. Interestingly, those employed ODs who saw the 18 percent pay gap had been employed less than 10 years, showing that particularly newer female ODs were experiencing a struggle with the wage gap.”

What can account for this gap?

  • Working fewer hours/part time
  • Not focusing on sub-specialties in optometry
  • Small volume sublease opportunities
  • One corporate location – lack of opportunities to expand and take on multiple locations

OPTICIANS

Depending on the state, there often needs to be a licensed optician in every corporate optical. According to Glassdoor, women opticians make 17.3 percent less than their male colleagues.

OVERCOMING THE GAP

While the problem may still be prevalent for many, there are ways to attempt to close the gap.

  • Continuous improvement. Always take the time to improve your knowledge, experience and skills. Keep up to date with the trends in optometry and in touch about important topics. If there is a specialty you’ve always wanted to explore, pursue it. Further, market these skills constantly to ensure new opportunities are always available to you. LinkedIn can be an incredible medium to display your proficiencies.
  • Negotiate. Understand your capabilities, your successes and your skills. You have worked hard for your reputation and merits. Constantly market yourself and build your professional resume. Use these to your advantage and don’t be afraid to ask for a raise based on them. Understand the data and be prepared with facts and statistics on competitive pay. Know what value your skillset brings to the company and its growth. With a positive attitude and a clear desire to help the company benefit from what you bring to the table, you can get one step closer to closing the gap.

DR. MARIA SAMPALIS is the owner of Sampalis Eyecare in Warwick, RI. She is a practice management consultant, the founder of Corporate Optometry on Facebook and founder of corporateoptometrycareers.com and corporateoptometry.com, as well as consulting for the FDA. You can email her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


This article originally appeared in the February 2018 edition of INVISION.   

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