When AbelsonTaylor’s Jay Carter peruses the results of this year’s MM&M Career and Salary Survey, he sees a lot to like.

“The first two words that came to mind were ‘fat’ and ‘happy,’” he says, pointing to the 12% increase in average salary for healthcare marketers and across-the-board surges in job satisfaction. “This is a great industry to work in no matter what, but, to quote the recently departed Ric Ocasek of The Cars, ‘Let the good times roll.’”

At the same time, Carter sounds a note of caution, particularly in regard to the industry’s longstanding — and, per the survey, worsening — gender gap. He notes that the increased dialogue around such issues needs to translate into action.

“Look, I interrogate numbers in surveys for fun and I can think of 15 or 20 different reasons that explain this phenomenon,” Carter says. “With the scrutiny and discussion around the topic over the last year, I am frankly at a loss.”

However, he is encouraged by what he believes to be an increasing number of women in high-profile positions. He points to FCB Health’s Dana Maiman and Omnicom’s Sharon Callahan as two of the agency world’s most effective leaders, and to recently promoted AbelsonTaylor EVPs Lynnette Hunter and Jeanine Koch as generational talents.

“I think we, both here at AbelsonTaylor and as an industry, are getting better at evaluating people,” Carter says. “Here at least, if you deserve the raise, you get the raise. If you deserve the promotion, you get the promotion. It happens slower the closer you get to the top, for obvious reasons, but it happens.”

In a broader sense, Carter expects the industry to see continued expansion, both in terms of overall growth and in terms of salary/career satisfaction. He offers one big caveat: “If we have another recession, all bets are off.”

In that scenario, Carter senses that healthcare marketing itself won’t be especially hard-hit. “It would negatively affect medical advertising drastically less than it would consumer advertising,” he predicts. “When you have a new drug, you need to launch it and do it optimally — and that’s where the bulk of the industry’s revenue comes from.”

Jay Carter is EVP, business development at AbelsonTaylor.