The Government’s Gender Hiring Gap

Politicians routinely criticize the private sector for not hiring enough women in key positions such as the fact that in 2017, only 32 of Fortune 500 companies had female CEOs.  Yet, a closer examination of public sector (i.e. government) jobs also reveals a disparity.  According to a recent report by Open the Books, one of the largest private databases of government spending in the world, men outnumber women as the top-paid employees on both the state and federal level.

On the federal level, females account for only 1 in 3 of the top earning positions.

Of the top-paid Congressional staffers (earning up to $172, 500), men outnumber women 2 to 1.

On the state level (data from the five most populous states: Florida, Texas, Illinois, California, New York), only 20% of the 1000 most highly compensated employees were women.  Male employees collectively earned $1.6 billion while women collectively earned $386 million.  Only 7 women represented the top 100 highest earning employees across the five states.

The hiring gap and compensation differences of congressional staff also reveal gender hiring gaps as an issue for both parties.  As Open the Books, CEO and Founder Adam Andrzejewski states, “[The] taxpayer-funded gender gap crosses both sides of the aisle.”

The case study of House of Representatives Minority Leader, Nancy Pelosi’s office (D-CA) states that in terms of yearly salaries, “on average, male employees made $124,404 while female employees made $94,389,” despite the fact that less men (25 men and 30 women) composed her staff.  How?  The men on her staff rank in higher positions than the women, and that’s why they earn more.  It’s not that she’s paying women less for the same job (that’s illegal), it’s just that she’s either not hiring women to higher paying positions or not promoting existing female staff to higher paying positions.  On her website, Pelosi champions the cause of opportunity and pay for women stating, “Too many women are asked to bear the burden of outdated policies that diminish opportunities for women’s full participation in the workforce.  Too many women are faced with the lack of good-paying job, and the daily challenge of providing for their families.”  Yet, her own office lacks action on the ideals she espouses.

The office of Senate Minority Leader, Chuck Schumer (D-NY) also revealed a gender compensation difference.  Schumer employed 32 men and 41 women.  The male employees averaged $76, 711 per year while the females averaged $69,263. Again, this seems due to the fact that men occupied more highly compensated positions than women.

While Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), employed 21 males and 23 females, the male employees made $107,813 per year while the female employees made a drastically lower $66,726.  Like Pelosi and Schumer’s offices, this reveals that the males in McConnell’s office fill higher paying positions than the women.

This data sparks key questions about women, careers and government leadership.  Is the hiring disparity the fault of government employers who prefer hiring men to women, or are less women interested in government jobs in general?  Are women not receiving promotions or do women prefer a lower paying government position with greater flexibility?

Government leaders who hypocritically criticize the private sector for gender hiring gaps, should first examine their own staffs.  If the hiring and promotion gap exists due to a lack of female applicants, give these women the freedom to choose a career they enjoy.  However, if the hiring gap proves to be based on discrimination, politicians should access their own hiring practices before they criticize private companies.


Note: The Open the Books oversight report states “Our analysis didn’t find a gender wage gap, but a gender hiring gap in the highly compensated employees…Employees in the same position—regardless of gender—are paid the same wages.  Doing otherwise is illegal.”

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Originally published on Patriot Post, December 14, 2017

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