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Brian Krueger, PhD
Columbia University Medical Center
New York NY USA

Brian Krueger is the owner, creator and coder of LabSpaces by night and Next Generation Sequencer by day. He is currently the Director of Genomic Analysis and Technical Operations for the Institute for Genomic Medicine at Columbia University Medical Center. In his blog you will find articles about technology, molecular biology, and editorial comments on the current state of science on the internet.

My posts are presented as opinion and commentary and do not represent the views of LabSpaces Productions, LLC, my employer, or my educational institution.

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I recently posted a picture of the congressional vote count for the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act showing the absolutely disgusting bi-partisan divide over this vote in 2009.  Republicans should be ashamed.


Credit: Rachel Maddow/MSNBC

However, someone added a link to an Examiner article posted a few days ago that said the Obama White House paid women 15% less in 2011.  The article essentially says that Obama is a massive hypocrite and Democrats are truly the ones waging the war against women.  If you read not very far into this story, they say the numbers are based on median salary, not the mean, and it's not classified by job title OR GS class (which would really get at equal pay for equal work - the whole point of the Ledbetter act!).  Unfortunately, when I went to grab the data from the White House page, it didn't list GS class or gender.  It'd be a lot more accurate to use GS class for this type of analysis because that takes into account the amount of experience a person has in each position, but doing the averages by job titles is still MUCH better than taking the median of the salaries.  In a profession such as US politics which is dominated by men, it's not surprising that a MEDIAN is going to be much higher for men than women. 

To do this extremely basic analysis, I took out any specialist job titles for which there was no other direct comparison.  I then went through all of the names and added a gender association (Had to plug a few into a baby name site, the Obama White House is pretty diverse!).  After that I found the Male and Female average wage for each job title and then calculated the wage skew by gender (just the percent difference, negative numbers mean that the number favors the female salary).  You can see the data below:

  Ave Female Ave Male Female/Male Skew
       
ANALYST $46926.00 $42000.00 -11.72857143
ASSISTANT DIRECTOR $50333.33 $50000.00 -0.666666667
ASSISTANT EXECUTIVE CLERK   $103871.50 n/a
ASSISTANT PRESS SECRETARY $84250.00 $84250.00 0
ASSISTANT SPEECHWRITER   $50000.00 n/a
ASSISTANT STAFF SECRETARY $60000.00 $65000.00 7.692307692
ASSISTANT TO THE EXECUTIVE CLERK $74958.00 $77040.00 2.702492212
ASSOCIATE COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR $90000.00 $90000.00 0
ASSOCIATE COUNSEL   $114000.00 n/a
ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR $63290.67 $49666.67 -27.43087248
COORDINATOR $45000.00 $45000.00 0
DEPUTY ASSOCIATE COUNSEL FOR PRESIDENTIAL PERSONNEL $94358.50 $104769.50 9.937052291
DEPUTY ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR $56316.67 $61200.00 7.979302832
DEPUTY DIRECTOR $70000.00 $75000.00 6.666666667
DEPUTY DIRECTOR AND DEPUTY SOCIAL SECRETARY $65000.00 $66300.00 1.960784314
DEPUTY DIRECTOR OF CABINET AFFAIRS $80000.00 $80000.00 0
DEPUTY DIRECTOR OF DIGITAL CONTENT $62500.00   n/a
DEPUTY DIRECTOR OF INTERGOVERNMENTAL AFFAIRS   $92920.00 n/a
DEPUTY DIRECTOR OF PUBLIC ENGAGEMENT $92000.00 $92920.00 0.99009901
EXECUTIVE ASSISTANT $49833.33 $45000.00 -10.74074074
INFORMATION SERVICES OPERATOR $54753.90 $43186.25 -26.78549307
LEGISLATIVE ASSISTANT $42000.00 $45000.00 6.666666667
PERSONAL AIDE TO THE PRESIDENT $95000.00 $95000.00 0
POLICY ADVISOR $88746.33 $55080.00 -61.12260954
POLICY ANALYST $45000.00 $45000.00 0
POLICY ASSISTANT $58388.14   n/a
PRESIDENTIAL SPEECHWRITER   $75000.00 n/a
PRESIDENTIAL SUPPORT SPECIALIST $84855.00 $62253.00 -36.30668402
PRESS ASSISTANT $42750.00 $45000.00 5
PRIORITY PLACEMENT DIRECTOR $72000.00 $72000.00 0
RECORDS MANAGEMENT ANALYST $53456.43 $54004.29 1.014469751
REGIONAL COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR $70000.00 $70000.00 0
RESEARCHER $46250.00   n/a
SENIOR ANALYST $42565.00 $42565.00 0
SENIOR POLICY ADVISOR $118660.25 $105855.29 -12.09666971
SENIOR SCHEDULER   $58000.00 n/a
SENIOR WRITER $50000.00 $50000.00 0
SPECIAL ASSISTANT $80934.00 $58394.00 -38.59985615
SPECIAL ASSISTANT AND ADVANCE LEAD $57000.00 $56333.33 -1.183431953
SPECIAL ASSISTANT AND PRESS LEAD $50000.00 $53333.33 6.25
SPECIAL ASSISTANT TO THE CHIEF OF STAFF $60000.00 $50000.00 -20
SPECIAL ASSISTANT TO THE PRESIDENT AND ASSOCIATE COUNSEL TO THE PRESIDENT $130500.00 $130500.00 0
SPECIAL ASSISTANT TO THE PRESIDENT AND SENIOR  PRESIDENTIAL SPEECHWRITER $100000.00 $100000.00 0
SPECIAL ASSISTANT TO THE PRESIDENT FOR ECONOMIC POLICY   $130500.00 n/a
SPECIAL ASSISTANT TO THE PRESIDENT FOR LEGISLATIVE AFFAIRS $130500.00 $124800.00 -4.567307692
SPECIAL ASSISTANT TO THE PRESIDENT FOR PRESIDENTIAL PERSONNEL $109333.33    
SPECIAL ASSISTANT TO THE SENIOR ADVISOR $61200.00 $60000.00 -2
STAFF ASSISTANT $42000.00 $42600.00 1.408450704
       
Average $70016.07 $70757.78 1.048232212
Average Minus Gender Absent Jobs $70113.17 $67271.64 -4.223970169

So if we take the raw average for each gender, women made 1% less in the Obama White House than men did.  If you remove the high paying jobs for which women don't hold a similar position, the skew is 4% in the favor of women.

Now, let's get this straight, I'm not arguing that there isn't a glass ceiling in Washington.  It's definitely a male dominated arena which women are just now beginning to break into.  This is even represented in table above by the high paying positions for which multiple men have jobs with no equally employed female counterpart.  However, I don't think taking the median salary for everyone in the White House staff and calculating a 15% wage skew is a fair assesment either. 

Download my excel file

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