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Gender pay gap observed in Gov. Raimondo’s office

Eight percent discrepancy widens to almost 12 percent when controlled for skill level

Metro Editor
Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Gov. Gina Raimondo, now a month into her first term, broke the glass ceiling by becoming the first female governor of Rhode Island. Throughout her campaign, Raimondo made promises to forge a path for other women to rise to leadership positions.

In a position paper on her campaign’s website, Raimondo said she would “promote a culture of paycheck fairness” by creating both an anonymous tip line for women to report noncompliance with the state’s wage discrimination laws and an equal pay certification for businesses “that show a commitment to equal pay practices.”

Despite this stated commitment, a 14 percent gender wage gap remains in the governor’s office, GoLocalProv reported.

There are many reasons for salary discrepancies between men and women that don’t necessarily point to gender discrimination, said Anna Aizer, associate professor of economics and public policy. With this in mind, The Herald took a closer look at the salaries of Raimondo’s staffers to investigate the gender wage gap and its relationship to possible gender discrimination.

The Herald obtained the names, titles and salaries of everyone Raimondo has appointed through an Access to Public Records Act request.

Upon analyzing this data, sent by Andrea Iannazzi, special counsel to the governor, The Herald found only an 8 percent pay gap between men and women. Further, “nearly 60 percent of (Raimondo’s) staff (members) are women,” Marie Aberger, press secretary for the governor, wrote in an email to The Herald.

The Herald then cross-referenced the names and titles in the APRA response with the Jan. 6 press release in which Raimondo announced her team.

When focusing on these particular appointments, there is an 11 percent wage gap between the average male and female salaries.

There was a clear outlier in the salary data: Meredith Curren, director of appointments. She is paid only $5,000 a year, bringing down the average female salary significantly. Once Curren was taken out of the data set, there were nearly even numbers of men and women, and only a 4.4 percent wage gap.

Jerzyk_Step-2_EmmaJerzykEmma Jerzyk / Herald

When labor economists test for salary discrepancies between genders, they control for occupation, level of schooling and experience, Aizer said.

Controlling for occupation can be complicated because women are sometimes only considered for positions requiring less skill. While “some people could argue that that is a form of discrimination,” it’s different than paying equally skilled people doing equally difficult jobs different salaries, Aizer said.

Looking to control for these occupational differences in skill level, The Herald removed non-technical jobs such as Office Manager, Scheduler, Protocol Manager and Special Assistant to the Governor, to see what discrepancies between salaries might remain. With three men and two women in such positions, 11 female and nine male staffers were left in the data pool, yielding an 11.7 percent wage gap.

Typically, more women end up in these non-technical positions, Aizer said. As a part of the four-part “Women at Work” series for the New York Times, Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant wrote about the numerous studies showing that women frequently end up doing “office housework” even in high-up positions.

Jerzyk_Step-4_EmmaJerzykEmma Jerzyk / Herald

But in the governor’s office, there were more men doing non-technical jobs than women, which brought down the average male salary and made it seem as though the wage gap were smaller. When these non-technical positions are removed from the analysis, the average male salary goes up by nearly 16 percent, while the average female salary only increases by 7 percent.

The GoLocalProv article that discussed the wage gap points out that, in terms of salary, the “only woman in the top five position in the Raimondo executive office is Claire Richards,” who stayed on through multiple previous administrations dating back to former Gov. Lincoln Almond.

The fact that she stayed from a previous administration is not a reason to throw her out as a data point, Aizer said.

Jerzyk_Step-5_EmmaJerzykEmma Jerzyk / Herald

But when the inherited members of Raimondo’s team — Donna Dell’Aquila, Christine DiFillippo, Claire Richards, Abby Swienton, David Cruise and John Cucco — are removed from the analysis, the wage gap increases to nearly 14 percent, the number GoLocalProv originally reported.

Additionally, the highest-paid man and woman in the governor’s office — Claire Richards and David Cruise — were both inherited. So when the inherited members of Raimondo’s team are removed, the highest-paid man becomes Chief of Staff Stephen Neuman and the highest-paid woman becomes Deputy Counsel Amy Moses, with a wage gap of nearly 29 percent between them.

The simplest way to control for occupation, Aizer said, is to examine employees with the same title. On Raimondo’s team, several staffers have identical titles. These employees sometimes have the exact same salary, but in other cases, salary discrepancies exist. A strong relationship was not evident between the gender of the staff member and the salary discrepancies present in this case.

These differences in salary despite identical titles are justifiable, Aizer said. Depending on how much a person was making beforehand, the administration might have had to offer him or her more money to join Raimondo’s team, Aizer added.

But “previous salary is not a bona fide reason for paying men and women differently for the same work,” Michele Leber, chair of the National Committee on Pay Equity, told GoLocalProv.

Jerzyk_SameTitles_EmmaJerzykEmma Jerzyk / Herald

Another way to analyze salaries under the Raimondo administration is to look at past administrations’ teams. Rhode Island Public Radio reported the names, titles and salaries of former Gov. Lincoln Chafee’s ’75 P’14 P’17 original staff in 2010.

These numbers initially present a 14 percent wage gap between men and women. But when non-technical jobs are removed from the analysis, though only seven women and 13 men remain, the wage gap drops to 8 percent.

When the data is controlled for skill level, the gender wage gap under the Raimondo administration widens to almost 12 percent. By comparison, the wage gap under the Chafee administration was 8 percent when controlled for skill level. In addition, when the inherited members of Raimondo’s team are removed from the analysis, the wage gap widens to almost 14 percent on average and 29 percent among her highest-paid employees.

But the Raimondo administration continues to affirm its commitment to gender parity.

“Initiatives to promote women in leadership are not just important for women but essential to creating opportunities for all Rhode Island families and strengthening our economy,” Aberger wrote of the administration’s take on the gender pay gap.

Raimondo’s position paper on paycheck fairness bleakly states that “median earnings for women are less than those for men in 264 of 265 major occupation categories.”

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  1. At least this isn’t as bad as the 77cents/dollar propaganda that circulates.

    It sounds like Professor Aizer is trying to convey a message that won’t be heard – the more you correct for difference in qualifications between men and women, the smaller the pay gap shrinks.

  2. On the wage gap in general:

    Here are two telling examples showing that some of America’s most sophisticated women choose to earn less than their male counterparts:

    “In 2011, 22% of male physicians and 44% of female physicians worked less than full time, up from 7% of men and 29% of women from Cejka’s 2005 survey.” (See also “Female Docs See Fewer Patients, Earn $55,000 Less Than Men”

    “…[O]nly 35 percent of women who have earned MBAs after getting a bachelor’s degree from a top school are working full time.” It “is not surprising that women are not showing up more often in corporations’ top ranks.”

    A thousand laws won’t close those gaps.

    In fact, no law yet has closed the gender wage gap — not the 1963 Equal Pay for Equal Work Act, not Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, not the 1978 Pregnancy Discrimination Act, not affirmative action (which has benefited mostly white women, the group most vocal about the wage gap –, not the 1991 amendments to Title VII, not the 1991 Glass Ceiling Commission created by the Civil Rights Act, not the 1993 Family and Medical Leave Act, not the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, not the Americans with Disability Act (Title I), not diversity, not the countless state and local laws and regulations, not the thousands of company mentors for women, not the horde of overseers at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, not TV’s and movies’ last two decades of casting women as thoroughly integrated into the world of work, and not the Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. Nor will the frequently sought Paycheck Fairness Act.

    That’s because women’s pay-equity advocates, who always insist one more law is needed, continue to overlook the female AND male behavior influenced by marriage or the anticipation of it:

    Despite the 40-year-old demand for women’s equal pay, millions of wives still choose to have no pay at all. In fact, according to Dr. Scott Haltzman, author of “The Secrets of Happily Married Women,” stay-at-home wives, including the childless who represent an estimated 10 percent, constitute a growing niche. “In the past few years,” he says in a CNN report at, “many women who are well educated and trained for career tracks have decided instead to stay at home.” (See also “More Women are Quitting the Workforce,” Oct. 3, ’14, If indeed a higher percentage of women is staying home, perhaps it’s because feminists have told women for years that female workers are paid less than men in the same jobs — so why bother working if they’re going to be penalized and humiliated for being a woman, as illustrated by such titles as this: “Gender wage gap sees women spend 7 weeks working for nothing”

    As full-time mothers or homemakers, stay-at-home wives earn zero. How can they afford to do this while in many cases living in luxury? Answer: Because they’re supported by their husband, an “employer” who pays them to stay at home. (Far more wives are supported by a spouse than are husbands.)

    The implication of this is probably obvious to most 12-year-olds but seems incomprehensible to, or is wrongly dismissed as irrelevant by, feminists and the liberal media: If millions of wives are able to accept NO wages, millions of other wives, whose husbands’ incomes vary, are more often able than husbands to:

    -accept low wages

    -refuse overtime and promotions

    -choose jobs based on interest first, wages second — the reverse of what men tend to do (The leading job for American women as of 2010 is — has been for over 40 years — secretary or administrative assistant.

    -take more unpaid days off

    -avoid uncomfortable wage-bargaining (

    -work fewer hours on average than men (, or work less than full-time more often than their male counterparts (as in the above example regarding physicians)

    -have less interest in being the boss

    Any one of these job choices lowers women’s median pay relative to men’s. And when a wife makes one of the choices, her husband often must take up the slack, thereby increasing HIS pay — as he decreases his freedom.

    Women who make these choices are generally able to do so because they are supported — or, if unmarried, anticipate being supported — by a husband who feels pressured to earn more than if he’d chosen never to marry. (Married men earn more than single men, but even many men who shun marriage, unlike their female counterparts, feel their self worth is tied to their net worth.) This is how MEN help create the wage gap: as a group they tend more than women to pass up jobs that interest them for ones that pay well.

    “Why the Ledbetter Fair Pay Act Hasn’t Helped Women?”

  3. Things that make you go Hmm says:

    If a male Republican had won the election, would the Herald and Ms. Jerzyk be working as hard to flatten the wage gap for him? Or are female Democrats the sole recipients of the most favorable math possible?

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