A group of Democratic female senators on Wednesday declared war on the so-called “gender pay gap,” urging their colleagues to pass the aptly named Paycheck Fairness Act when Congress returns from recess next month. However, a substantial gender pay gap exists in their own offices, a Washington Free Beacon analysis of Senate salary data reveals.
Of the five senators who participated in Wednesday’s press conference—Barbara Mikulski (D., Md.), Patty Murray (D., Wash.), Debbie Stabenow (D., Mich.), Dianne Feinstein (D., Calif.) and Barbara Boxer (D., Calif.)—three pay their female staff members significantly less than male staffers.
Murray, who has repeatedly accused Republicans of waging a “war a women,” is one of the worst offenders. Female members of Murray’s staff made about $21,000 less per year than male staffers in 2011, a difference of 35.2 percent.
That is well above the 23 percent gap that Democrats claim exists between male and female workers nationwide. The figure is based on a 2010 U.S. Census Bureau report, and is technically accurate. However, as CNN’s Lisa Sylvester has reported, when factors such as area of employment, hours of work, and time in the workplace are taken into account, the gap shrinks to about 5 percent.
A significant “gender gap” exists in Feinstein’s office, where women also made about $21,000 less than men in 2011, but the percentage difference—41 percent—was even higher than Murray’s.
Boxer’s female staffers made about $5,000 less, a difference of 7.3 percent.
The Free Beacon used publicly available salary data from the transparency website Legistorm to calculate the figures, and considered only current full-time staff members who were employed for the entirety of fiscal year 2011.
The employee gender pay gap among Senate Democrats was not limited to Murray, Boxer, and Feinstein. Of the 50 members of the Senate Democratic caucus examined in the analysis, 37 senators paid their female staffers less than male staffers.
Senators elected in 2010—Joe Manchin, Chris Coons, and Richard Blumenthal—were not considered due to incomplete salary data.
Women working for Senate Democrats in 2011 pulled in an average salary of $60,877. Men made about $6,500 more.
While the gap is significant, it is slightly smaller than that of the White House, which pays men about $10,000, or 13 percent, more on average, according to a previous Free Beacon analysis.
The pay differential is quite striking in some cases, especially among leading Democrats. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.), who runs the Senate Democratic messaging operation, paid men $19,454 more on average, a 36 percent difference.
Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D., Ill.) paid men $13,063 more, a difference of 23 percent.
Other notable Senators whose “gender pay gap” was larger than 23 percent:
- Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.)—47.6 percent
- Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D., N.M.)—40 percent
- Sen. Jon Tester (D., Mont.)—34.2 percent
- Sen. Ben Cardin (D., Md.)—31.5 percent
- Sen. Tom Carper (D., Del.)—30.4 percent
- Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D., Minn.)–29.7 percent
- Sen. Kent Conrad (D., N.D.)–29.2 percent
- Sen. Bill Nelson (D., Fla.)—26.5 percent
- Sen. Ron Wyden (D., Ore)—26.4 percent
- Sen. Tom Harkin (D., Iowa)—23.2 percent
Sen. Sanders, who is an avowed socialist who caucuses with the Democrats, has the worst gender gap by far. He employed more men (14) than women (10), and his chief of staff is male. Like many of his fellow partisans, he has previously accused Republicans of “trying to roll back the clock on women’s rights.”
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