Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Pay Equity in the Obama White House

I just read a really interesting post, by Ariel Boone, over at feministing about the wages of women vs. men in The White House under the Obama Administration.

Not too surprising, women still earn less overall (on average, a White House woman earns $9,462 less than a White House man). Whether they are being paid equal pay for equal work though is unknown, but the data shows that there is a clear influx of women in lower paid jobs.

Boone made a few charts so we could visually see the differences:

As you can see, there are quite a few more women in the lower end of the spectrum then there are men. Obviously, these positions (Staff Assistant, Executive Assistant, Scheduler, Receptionist, etc) are traditionally filled by women, but I’m concerned with the way women are sorely missing from the levels of senior staff.

As Boone points out, “these figures say nothing of hiring practices or of attitudes toward women in the administration” or, as I stated earlier, if women are earning equal pay for equal work but it does show that the people at the highest levels of the government are increasingly male.

Though I suppose that’s not really too surprising.

The real silver lining to all this, is the number of female and male staff are pretty much equal (woman comprise 49.7% of the White House staff). Even though this is very close to the nationwide population average, Boone brings up a very interesting point:
Should we be judging by a population benchmark? Of the Class of 2009, women were awarded close to 60% of all degrees, including Associate’s, Bachelor’s, Master’s, Professional, and Doctoral. The perceived gap between female WH employees and female graduates entering the workforce is larger: 49.7% vs 60%.
Makes you wonder doesn't it?

Boone also goes on to compare this administration with the Bush and Clinton Administrations as well.

Though the Clinton information is a bit skewed (you can read more about it here), it does make for an interesting read; because though women are well represented, there does seem to be a point where they start to disappear.

And unfortunately that point is near the top.

Boone’s notes about her process:
Besides making “assumptions” about the 487 names, there were about 50 gender-ambiguous names (Ashley, Jamia, Tracy, etc) that I researched to confirm the person’s pronouns. I do realize this process is not trans-inclusive. Patricia McGinnis and Michael Warren were counted into the total number of employees, but not into the salary averages and medians, as both earned $0.00. The total percentage of staff was includes detailees, but the average salary does not. Detailees are essentially employees on loan from other federal agencies, whose salaries are determined and paid for by the other agencies.

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