We examine gender differences in policy influence and advancement within the congressional office context using US Congress payroll system data between 2001 and 2014. We document how congressional careers share structural features with nonpolitical occupations with gender gaps. We find that women staffers experience slower promotion and less compensation than men at the same rank and that the gender gap is most salient for positions presenting the greatest structural challenges for women. However, these differences are shaped by the salience of gender equality issues within the office, varying by legislators’ party and gender and by the roles of other women within the office. Our analysis offers leverage for assessing previous explanations for women’s underrepresentation among policy makers, suggesting that electoral factors, supply lag, and institutional inertia do not solely account for gender differences. However, the political context mitigates gender disparity because of the salience of gender equality within the political workplace.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Sociology and Political Science