Longer view: The pay gap in the Bush and Clinton administrations

As discussed, the trend of men dominating the ranks of senior White House staff spans administrations. The Obama administration’s July 1st report, titled the “Annual Report to Congress on White House Staff,” was the first such report available (and searchable!) on the White House website. The Bush administration released the same reports from 2001-2008, which were posted on The Washington Post’s website by none other than recently-fired Dan Froomkin. It would make sense that each administration would employ at least as much disclosure as the Bush administration did, but as the White House reminds us,

“Since 1995, the White House has been required to deliver a report to Congress listing the title and salary of every White House Office employee.”

The Clinton administration invited this yearly report by refusing to disclose their White House staff salaries. In 1993, the Washington Post procured a printed list of White House staff and their salaries which was not even available, at the time, to the staff themselves. After publishing the full list on November 1, 1993, a kerfuffle ensued: White House staff learned that they really weren’t getting paid so much, after all. Their highest-paid earned $9,000 less than their George H.W. Bush-administration counterparts. This was great journalism on the part of the Washington Post. As a result, from 1995-on, the White House was incrementally more accountable to the public through the Annual Reports to Congress. It does make the 1993 data very skewed.

Just the numbers:

2009-Obama 2007-Bush 1993-Clinton
Median salary (woman) $57,314 $50,645 $45,000
Median salary (men) $65,000 $57,463 $70,000
Difference ($7,686) ($6,818) ($25,000)
Average salary (women) $72,956 $61,894 $53,525
Average salary (men) $82,346 $77,195 $71,470
Difference ($9,390) ($15,301) ($17,945)
Women as % of WH staff 50.90% 47.50% 59.70%
How much on the dollar? $0.89 $0.80 $0.75

Just the charts:

Data tables are published for the 2009 numbers, 2007 numbers, and 1993 numbers.

The Clinton numbers are indeed skewed–for the 289 employees disclosed by the Washington Post in 1993, a refreshing 59.7% of the staff were women. Unsurprisingly, these women were concentrated in the lowest levels of staff. From the chart, it is clear that women far outnumbered men in the lowest paid positions. But of the 17 employees receiving the maximum salary of $125,000, only four were women. The median salary for a woman was $45,000, and $70,000 for a man. That is a monumental difference, reinforcing the difference in seniority. Of course, this entire thing reads like a joke about the proliferation of female interns and secretaries in the Clinton administration.

The Bush numbers are worse in some ways, better in others. Obviously, at 47.5%, women make up a significant proportion of staff, though not as much as the Democratic administrations. Yet the trend observed in the 2009 chart is strengthened in the 2007 chart; women outnumber men at lower-paid positions and are themselves outnumbered in higher-paid ones. Knowing that the Republican party does not enjoy the 60%-women demographic that the Democratic party boasts, I consider it unsurprising that the senior levels are all male-dominated. Out of the 122 highest-paid White House employees in 2007, only 35 were women.

This is where I really feel that the trend is self-perpetuating– and it’s not a trend of poor representation of women, because women were relatively well-represented (59%, 47%, 49%) overall, but rather a problem with upward mobility. Where, in the process of education, political involvement, recruitment, and retention, do women disappear?

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One response to “Longer view: The pay gap in the Bush and Clinton administrations

  1. great job Ariel! Of course, when you ask that question, “Where in the the process of education, political involvement, recruitment, and retention, do women disappear?” I would say they have simply not yet appeared due to historical inequalities in education that have not yet filtered to the highest positions that require the most experience (as in my comment on your previous blog). But really, this is great! I love that you’re doing this!

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