SACRAMENTO (AP) — Women working for California lawmakers earn less than their male counterparts, according to a newspaper’s analysis reported Saturday that exposes an inequality perpetuated by those who set state policy.
Compared to men, women who work for the state Assembly earn 92 cents on the dollar, and in the Senate women make 94 cents on the dollar, The Sacramento Bee reported, citing its analysis of 2,100 employees. The report found that five top earners in both houses are men, and men also make up 61 percent of the 41 staffers earning $150,000 or more annually.
Women on the legislative staff do better than women in California’s overall workforce — who earn 84 cents on the dollar — the analysis finds, but a gap remains, drawing calls for change.
“Equal pay for equal work is long overdue,” said state Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson, a Democrat from Santa Barbara. “The time is now. It isn’t just the right thing for California women, it is the right thing for our economy and our state.”
In recent weeks, state lawmakers have introduced measures to close the gap, which has left women at a financial disadvantage both in their working years and later in retirement, the newspaper reported. The National Partnership for Women & Families estimates that the inequality costs women across California $37 billion annually.
“If they’re going to talk the talk, it’s very smart for them to get their own house in order and walk the walk,” said Lisa Maatz of the American Association of University Women.
There is progress with a few women taking prominent positions in the last year. Debbie Manning made history as the Senate’s first woman appointed as sergeant-at-arms, earning $171,480 annually. Debra Gravert was promoted to the Assembly’s chief administrative officer after her male predecessor retired; she earns $178,104 annually, the newspaper reported.
Claire Conlon, a spokeswoman for Democratic Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de Leon of Los Angeles, said in a statement that the Senate is at the forefront of proposing policies that close the gap. “Our long-term objective has been and continues to be making this people’s institution a model of workplace fairness and equality,” the statement said. “We move closer to that goal every day.”