Women on the Hill
Erika Lovely writes about the gender breakdown of employment on Capitol Hill:
A POLITICO review of several House of Representatives compensation studies shows that the number of female chiefs of staff in the House has increased only about 6 percentage points during the past five years. As of last year, only 41 percent of House chiefs of staff were female.
The number of female legislative directors, a second-tier position key to forming policy in many House offices, increased by only 1 percentage point, to 36.5 percent, during the same five-year period.
Recent employment studies of the U.S. Senate have not included gender breakdowns.
And while the ranks of women in top positions of congressional offices might be thin, women dominate the middle to lower ranks. According to last year’s study, women filled 84 percent of executive assistant and 82 percent of scheduler jobs. These positions, which typically pay an average of $48,000 to $59,000, include maintaining payrolls, monitoring office policies and keeping the member’s official schedule. By contrast, many chiefs of staff in the House make an average of $134,000 a year.
Not to be an apologist for any form of inequity, but in a world where women are 2.6 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs and 17.2 percent of members of the House of Representatives the upper echelons of House staff positions seems like one of the least inequitable major power centers in the country. The overwhelming preponderance of women in certain kinds of functionary roles does, however, tell us a lot about the continuing power of gender roles in shaping labor markets. Are we really supposed to believe that no men have the relevant competency to maintain a schedule? Perhaps after he’s done as NEC chair, Larry Summers will offer us his thoughts on this.