By Adam Andrzejewski
When it comes to the "war on women," many politicians are hypocrites. They allege gender bias in the private-sector workplace to score political points while simultaneously leading government payrolls with massive gender gaps among top-paid positions.
Whether it's House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, or even former President Barack Obama, the public payrolls under their executive control show men outnumbering women in top positions by huge margins in 2016.
This week, 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 1,000 top-paid Congressional staffers; and the 1,000 most highly compensated public employees within the five largest states.
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.
In fact, the problem is getting worse. This week, the World Economic Forum released its Global Gender Gap Report, which found "declining gender equality in the workplace and political representation." The Forum report ranked the U.S. 96th among 146 surveyed countries – down 19 spots from its previous slot, and claimed that "the U.S.’s greatest weakness is in the Political Empowerment pillar."
The cardinal example is Barack Obama – a self-proclaimed feminist – who failed to close the gender gap among top-paid employees in 23 of 25 largest federal agencies. The president had eight years to fix the disparities.
- At the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), 90 percent of the 500 top-paid employees were men. All of these top employees were medical officers (doctors), and just 49 of them were women. The VA paid its top earners $183 million, and just $18 million went to women.
- On Wall Street, the "Fearless Girl" sculpture currently staring down the iconic "Charging Bull" stands as a reminder to corporate America that women are underrepresented in boardrooms. Meanwhile, the top-paid employees at Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) last year were 64 percent male – and this agency is supposed to regulate Wall Street.
- Obama's Department of Labor (DOL) sued Google in January for failing to provide data about its employees that is used in examining compliance with equal opportunity laws – but DOL payroll data reveals its own gender hiring gap. Last year, 61 percent of the agency's top employees were men.
The hypocrisy exists in Congress, too. Out of the 1,000 most highly compensated Congressional staffers, men outnumbered women two to one.
One startling example: As the highest-ranking female in American politics, House Minority Leader Pelosi has established herself as a feminist icon – but just two of her eight top-paid employees were women. Overall, Pelosi employed 30 women staffers – who worked full-time for an entire year – and 25 men. On average, however, Pelosi paid her female staffers $30,006 less than men.
It's not just federal government that has a gender problem. In the governments of the five most populous states – California, Texas, New York, Florida and Illinois – the gender hiring gap in top-paid positions was even wider. Of the top 5,000 government employees in those states, four out of five were men. In these top-paid positions, men earned $1.57 billion while women earned $386 million.
In major American cities – where most leaders pride themselves on progressive idealism – the numbers are even worse:
- In Mayor Bill de Blasio's New York City, just three out of the 200 top-paid public employees were women last year. The mayor's office admitted that women make up more than half of the city's workforce, and swear they've made strides toward equity, citing the creation of new lactation rooms at social service agencies around the city as an example. But money talks.
- In Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s City of Chicago, just 12 females made the list of the 100 most highly compensated employees last year. The 88 top-earning males made $17.5 million while the females earned $2.5 million. Despite his city's serious gender gap issues, Emanuel supported rallies on Equal Pay Day and sent out mayoral proclamations lamenting, "women continue to suffer the consequences of unequal pay." He should know.
- In Mayor Eric Garcetti’s Los Angeles, just three females made the list of the top 100 most highly compensated employees in 2015. The 97 men made $31.7 million while the three women made $971,918. The numbers in San Francisco are ten times better, but even so less than one third of the top 100 city employees are female. Both Garcetti and Mayor Ed Lee in San Francisco celebrated Women's Equality Day.
Throughout all levels of American government, our findings show that it’s still a man’s world, especially regarding top salaries. Fifty years after women started entering the workforce in droves, generations of "fearless girls" still haven’t created significant change in government’s most lucrative hiring practices.