Update: Earlier this year, we reported on the accusation, made by a conservative paper, that Hillary Clinton paid female staffers less than she paid men while she was a senator. Buzzfeed's Ruby Cramer ran the numbers, and found what we'd suspected: those claims are false. After analyzing all Clinton's full-time employees' salaries from 2002-2008, Cramer found that Sen Clinton paid equally — in fact, women earned slightly more. "During the seven years, women made more on average for Clinton, according to the data. Women made an average of about $56,000, while men made about $52,000," she writes. And, Clinton consistently employed more women than men. Whether this data will discourage everyone on the right from using the "Clinton underpaid women" line as a talking point remains to be seen. This story was originally published on February 27, 2015.
Earlier this week, a conservative paper accused Hillary Clinton of wage discrimination, saying she paid female staffers 72 cents for every dollar she paid men during her eight years as a senator. Today, the Clinton camp vigorously denied the claims. “It’s a ridiculous proposition,” Press Secretary Nick Merrill told Refinery29 in an email today. “A majority of her Senate staff were women. Women held most of the senior-most positions — including her Chief of Staff. Four of the five highest paid positions in her office were held by women. If the American workforce looked more like Senator Clinton’s staff, we would be in far better shape on this issue, one that she’s been a fierce advocate for throughout her entire career.” The Washington Free Beacon initially ran the story earlier this week, after arriving at the figure by analyzing data from official Senate expenditure reports from 2002 through 2008. It has since been circulating on other conservative sites and was discussed on The View.
The report in the Beacon shows Senator Clinton paying a higher average to male employees than females — which makes actual pay discrimination difficult to judge. Without knowing detailed information about what each employee did and how much experience they all had, it's impossible to say that women were systematically underpaid. Clinton has been criticized for hiring mostly men into the top spots of her presumed Presidential campaign, which is a real, but complicated issue — and one compounded by the fact that men might choose, or systematically be encouraged into, higher paying jobs in the first place. What is clear is that her Senate staff (usually between 60 to 70 people) was half or more than half women for her two terms in office, and that during those terms she repeatedly sponsored legislation that supported an equal-rights agenda. In the long run, it will take a fight for the kind of big, structural improvements that will set up wage equality in the nation as a whole, and having someone in office who's willing to take that on is what could finally effect meaningful change.