Center for Effective Lawmaking

Advancement of Women in Congressional Staff and Leadership

New Research About Women’s Advancement in Politics

New Research on Women's Advancement in Politics and the Gender Gap

New research coming from our 2018-2019 small grant program has huge implications regarding the prospects for career advancement among female congressional staff.

CEL affiliates and grant awardees Melinda N. Ritchie and Hye Young You find that female staff members experience slower rates of promotion and lower levels of compensation than male staff members at the same rank, and that this gender gap is most substantial for positions that present the greatest structural challenges for women. These differences appear to be shaped by the salience of gender equality issues within the office, and they also vary by legislators’ party and gender, and by the roles of other female staff members within the office.

The analysis offers leverage for assessing previous explanations for women’s underrepresentation among policymakers, suggesting that electoral factors, supply lag, and institutional inertia do not solely account for gender differences in representation. The political context also mitigates gender disparity, because of the salience of gender equality within the political workplace.

This fascinating body of work delves into the importance of unelected female policymakers (i.e., congressional staff), the gender gap among the workforce on Capitol Hill, and the gender gap in promotions and compensation in Congress.

Click here to read and download the working paper.

Click here to read all working papers from the Center for Effective Lawmaking.

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