The White House Wage Gap Has Skyrocketed Under Trump

According to the American Enterprise Institute (AEI)—an organization that once called the wage gap “a myth”— there is a 37 percent difference between the median earnings of male and female White House staffers. That difference is larger even than the despairing national average, and presents a staggering difference from previous administrations.

The White House last week published the title and salary of every White House Office employee. Roll Call averaged the numbers and reported that in Trump’s White House, women were making 80 cents to a man’s dollar on average. But using the average or mean salary to report pay differences is not as statistically accurate as using median pay. The mean is particularly susceptible to the influence of outliers, not including Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump’s non-existent salaries. When analyzing salary, high-earners provide a false representation of a mean salary.

Taking a cue from the Pew Research Center’s recent analysis on the gender wage gap, the AEI instead used median pay in their report, finding a 37 percent difference in pay by gender—with women earning a median wage of $72,650 and men earning $115,000. That means Donald Trump’s White House has a wage gap that is more than double the national gap, which is troubling enough at 17 percent. Trump’s administration, in fact, has the largest White House wage gap since 2003. For the sake of comparison, the Obama White House had a wage gap of 13 percent in 2014. According to Newsweek, there are also fewer women in high-paying positions in Trump’s White House. Out of the 22 staffers paid the highest wage in the White House of $179,700, only five are women.

All of this, of course, should come as no surprise. Trump revoked President Obama’s Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces executive order in April, which had ensured companies with federal contracts comply with labor and civil rights laws—rolling back efforts to keep companies from giving unfair wages to workers and making it possible for companies to force sexual harassment cases to take place in secret. He never explicitly promised to address the wage gap on the campaign trail, skirting the issue as one of women doing “just as good a job” as men. And his plans for working families—which disproportionately impact women—are lacking. At the core of his White House appear to be rigid definitions of gender.

Ivanka Trump, who fashions herself an advocate for working women, has previously publicly acknowledged the wage gap and called for equal pay. Perhaps it’s time for her—and the other members of her father’s administration—to finally recognize the pivotal role they’re playing in upholding it.


Kelsey Cochran is an Editorial Intern at Ms. and a senior at Gettysburg College majoring in Globalization Studies with a focus in Western media portrayal of Arab countries. She aspires to be a photojournalist and has previously been published in her hometown’s independent newspaper The Bay Weekly. When she isn’t tracking down subjects to interview for her next article, you can find her running on the rugby field, taking her friend’s next profile picture or talking about her time spent abroad for the hundredth time.