A new report, “The State of Women in Optometry 2020,” from Women in Optometry, has been released. The report, prepared for and presented at the Women’s Leadership Conference, highlights the profession’s changing workforce and the changing health-care demands facing ODs. This year’s Women’s Leadership Conference was held October 13-15 in conjunction with The American Academy of Optometry’s virtual Academy at Home.
As has been the trend for a number of years, women are increasingly dominating optometry school, with 69 percent of incoming first-year students women. The report includes a chart listing the number and percentage of women students in each optometry school. There also is a chart showing the numbers of women on the faculty of optometry schools. Since just 2012, the percentage of women in optometry overall has grown from 37.7 to 44.2 percent in 2020.
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The report also provides an analysis of the overall optometry marketplace, including the significant growth in the number of ODs compared to OMDs, whose numbers have experienced nearly flat growth since 2012. In addition, the opportunity to provide medical eyecare is noted, with the growth in the prevalence of eye conditions such as cataracts, glaucoma, age-related macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy tracked.
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For all the progress women have made in the profession, a pay gap between men and women ODs still exists. The gap is greatest between men and women ODs who have been in the profession for over 15 years, with men at that stage of their careers earning an average of $213,750 annually, and women earning an average of $135, 975 annually. The good news, though, is women reported higher incomes in 2020 compared to 2019, with those with more than 15 years experience earning an average of $135,975 annually this year compared to an average of $124,034 in 2019.