Female House GOP Staffers Paid Staggeringly Less Than Male Counterparts
5:01 pm, July 12th | by Amy Tennery
Not to present huge generalizations here, but (usually) you can fairly draw the gender pay gap debate by party lines: The Democrats believe women are paid less than men and unfairly so. The Republicans believe gender pay gap theories belong with the tooth fairy and the Loch Ness Monster.
So it should come as no surprise to learn that, among House staffers, Republican women may be getting the short end of the salary stick. Can’t really address a problem if you don’t think it exists, right? Perhaps.
First thing’s first: New data from LegiStorm (which we found over at The Atlantic) shows that female Republican House of Representatives staffers are paid significantly less than their male counterparts. (An alternate headline for this piece? “People Who Don’t Believe Women Are Paid Less Than Men Pay Women Less Than Men”)
Here are some mind-bending stats: Female GOP House staffers made, on average, $10,093.09 less per year than male GOP House staffers. Compare this to the nearly egalitarian pay figures among House Dems’ staffers (women rake in $1,473.65 less than the dudes, on average), and a pretty clear pattern emerges: Something’s going on with the Republicans.
Of course, there are many factors that could contribute to this — and there’s no immediate way to prove this is the result of gender pay discrimination in the traditional sense. Conventional data on the gender pay gap — in all fields, across the country — shows that a pay disparity exists between men and women, even after you account for those pesky statistical loopholes, like maternity leave, level of employment and career field.
But what’s going on here, really? There are only two logical reasons for this pattern: Either Republicans are willfully paying their female staffers less for doing the same job or they’re simply not hiring or promoting women into senior positions (i.e., higher-paying positions) the way Dems are. It’s hard to imagine any House administration would be stupid enough to make the first mistake, which leaves us with only the second option.
Given Nancy Pelosi’s advocacy for closing the gender pay gap in the U.S., it was hardly any surprise Republican pundits helped themselves to a victory lap when it was revealed a pay gap existed within her own administration. But, as we learned in her case, pay gaps within individual congress members’ staffs aren’t always as they seem. (Also, it’s pretty difficult to establish a pattern of pay discrimination when your sample size is 18 — the maximum number of permanent staffers a member of congress is allowed to hire.)
But given that these stats take House Republicans and Democrats on the whole, it’s clear that female GOP House staffers are hired, promoted and paid differently than the men. And that should be a huge wakeup call.