The failure of the Paycheck Fairness Act on Capitol Hill has paved the way for dialogue on the issue of women making significantly less than their male counterparts in the workplace. Nationwide, there is a pay gap of about 12.7 percent between men and women, but looking locally at Washington D.C., the spread appears to be even larger. What’s happening with female CEOs in the District?
The National Journal released a survey recently on the salaries of CEOs in Washington’s nonprofit space, which includes trade associations, professional societies, think tanks, labor unions, and public-interest groups. Of 644 nonprofit CEOs surveyed in D.C., women only comprised 22 percent. Of the 100 highest-paid CEOs surveyed, only 13 were women. Overall, the women surveyed made a median of $59,063 less than their male counterparts.
While sobering, these numbers are better than when the National Journal conducted the same survey in 2008. Then, there was a 30-percent disparity between the salaries of male and female CEOs in Washington. Now, it is closer to a 15-percent difference.
One of the big factors causing this split here in D.C. seems to be the fact that women are less likely to run large, profitable organizations. Over 34 percent of men surveyed were running organizations that brought in over $50 million a year, whereas only 23 percent of women were CEOs of institutions that size. Even more telling is the fact that these large organizations also have the biggest pay gaps by far: Women running groups with more than $100 million in profits made a median of $206,856 less than men running similar organizations.
There is also a big gender difference here in Washington in the types of industries women are leading versus men. The banking and finance sector, for example, has the highest-paid CEOs, and yet only 15 percent of these are women. In comparison, women run 34 percent of D.C. education and arts nonprofits, which also have the smallest salaries.
Of course, these factors only tell a part of the story. Experts who have been studying the pay gap cite the fact that women often accept lower salaries than men when they first enter the workforce, which makes it difficult to catch up to male pay raises. Women are also more likely to take breaks in their career to raise a family, which cuts their earning potential.
While women in Washington may be leaning in to take top spots at nonprofits, it would appear their power on paper is not being translated into their paychecks.
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