Often times, politicians talk about a "war on women" in an effort to score political points. Many of those same politicians, however, simultaneously make funding decisions about government agencies that have striking gaps between male and female wages and employment.
Promoting gender equality to women’s groups while simultaneously running public payrolls with wide gender disparities is pure hypocrisy. Sadly, it’s common in Illinois, where 72 percent of the 1,000 top-paid public employees are men.
Recently, our organization at OpenTheBooks.com released our oversight report, Federal & State Government’s Gender Hiring Gap – Gender Study of Highly Compensated Public Employees. We analyzed the 500 most highly compensated employees at each of the largest 25 federal agencies; the top 1,000 highest paid Congressional staffers; and the 1,000 most highly compensated public employees within each of the five most populous states: California, Texas, Florida, New York and Illinois.
We found that top-paid men outnumber women two-to-one at the federal level. Across the states, just two in ten top earners were women.
Here are some of our findings:
- In Rahm Emanuel’s City of Chicago, just 12 females made the list of the top 100 most highly compensated employees last year. The 88 top-earning males made $17.5 million while the females earned $2.5 million. The Aviation Commissioner Ginger Evans earned $400,000 last year as the highest paid city employee, but our data shows she’s an outlier.
- In Washington, D.C., Illinois Senator Dick Durbin, the Democratic Whip, employed 21 men and 31 women within his leadership and main offices. On average, however, Durbin’s male employees made $79,803 while female staffers made $67,908. Collectively, men – working full-time for the entire 12-months during calendar year 2016 – earned $1.68 million while women earned $2.11 million.
- Under the leadership of Secretary Penny Pritzker, a scion of the Chicago Pritzker family, the U.S. Department of Commerce employed 362 male employees earning $67 million and 138 female employees earning nearly $26 million. Overall, men received 72 percent of total compensation. The most popular job title was "patent attorney." Among the high earners, 49 female patent attorneys earned $9.4 million while 118 male patent attorneys earned $22.7 million. Ms. Pritzker had four years to help rectify the gaps.
- Across Illinois, the 1,000 most highly compensated public employees cost taxpayers $294 million. The salaries ranged from $247,295 to $1.6 million. Among these high earners, 715 men earned $214 million and 285 women earned $80 million. Just one of the top 20 highest-paid Illinois employees was a woman.
- In communities outside of Chicago, there were 88 managers of small and medium-sized communities across Illinois that out-earned 49 of the 50 governors. Their salaries ranged from $180,000 to $297,000 last year. Just nine of these 88 highly compensated managers were female. These overcompensated men are one reason Illinois property taxes are so high.
- Overall, nearly four of 10 Illinois high earners were employed by the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) or by University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana. At UIC, most of the highly compensated public employees are doctors – including the top-paid professor who heads up the neurosurgery department, Dr. Fady Charbel ($1.6 million). Out of 298 high earners who earned $87.3 million, just 89 were female. In Champaign-Urbana, there were 185 high-earners and 155 were men.
- In our local K-12 school districts, the distribution of women among the top 250 paid educators is slightly more equitable – but still skewed. Collectively, 163 male educators received $40 million while 87 female educators earned $20.8 million. Within the ten top-paid educators, three were women including Park Forest District 163 Superintendent Joyce Carmine who made $398,229 – the highest salary of any educator in Illinois.
More than 50 years after American women began entering the workforce in droves during the feminist movement of the 1960s, allegations of gender inequality in the workplace still make the news. Typically, the story stars a politician castigating the private sector.
Yet, as our report shows, many of those politicians are hypocrites when it comes to budgets they manage. For instance, Mayor Emanuel has serious gender gap issues in budgets he manages yet he supported rallies on Equal Pay Day and sent out mayoral proclamations lamenting, "women continue to suffer the consequences of unequal pay." Perhaps he should rectify the disparities in his own payroll first.
In March of 2017 a bronze statue called "Fearless Girl" was installed opposite of the charging Wall Street bull statue in New York City. The statue almost immediately attained iconic status.
Our study shows that government is one of the worst offenders when it comes to the gender gap. Perhaps it’s time an army of "fearless girls" stormed government and demanded results, not rhetoric, from our politicians.