HomeLearning CenterEven the White House Has a Gender Pay Gap

Even the White House Has a Gender Pay Gap

Originally published by Chabeli Carrazana for The 19th

Though pay equity has been a policy focus for President Joe Biden, he still hasn’t delivered on parity within his own White House. Women working in the White House were earning 80 cents for every $1 men earned in 2023, a gap wider than the national average, according to an analysis of the most recent data by The 19th. 

Tuesday marks Equal Pay Day, when the country recognizes the size of the pay gap between men and women and the work needed to close it. In 2024, women working full-time earn 84 cents for every $1 White men earn. If part-time workers are included, the gap widens further, with women earning 78 cents on the man’s $1 because they are the ones more likely to be working low-paid, part-time jobs.

Equal pay will almost certainly be an issue Biden campaigns on this election year, drawing a contrast with former President Donald Trump. The pay gap among White House employees in Trump’s administration in 2020 was even wider. Women were earning 76 cents for every $1 men earned, The 19th found. The median wage for women working in the Trump White House was $72,700; for men it was $95,350. In Biden’s White House, women’s median wage was $84,000, while men’s was $105,000. 

Trump has previously said he promotes women if they’re the best for the job, but actively worked to curtail national pay equity policies. Biden, who has spoken widely about pay equity and tried to push for it through legislation, has still fallen short of passing it.

The pay gaps in the presidents’ White Houses help illuminate just how difficult it is to address an issue like pay equity without targeted legislation, even when a president prioritizes it. 

The 19th analyzed the public salary data of both White Houses, which is released every July, and used available records and social media profiles to ascertain gender for nearly 1,000 staffers across both administrations. Because the data is self reported, the White House could not confirm if any staffers were nonbinary. The Trump administration didn’t appear to have any staffers who identified as nonbinary, the National Center for Transgender Equality told The 19th in 2020. There were not sufficient available records to analyze race, and so the White House pay gap is a comparison of the median wage for all women and all men. The 19th’s analysis focuses on only staff hired directly by each administration.

Nationally, the way the pay gap is calculated is by analyzing all the jobs men and women have and comparing the median wages for each group. The figure for women is typically compared with that for White men because they are the highest-paid group that is also a significant portion of the labor force. Asian men earn slightly more but are about 3 percent of the workforce, whereas White men are about a third of it. The pay gap is also a “raw” figure, which means it’s not controlling for other factors such as education or experience. But that doesn’t mean the calculation is not valuable. The gender pay gap is really a reflection of job distribution: Do women and men have the same access to the same types of jobs, particularly higher-paid jobs? The answer, both in the White House and in America, is no. 

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