Wednesday Jolt: Gender Pay Equity at King County
The day's winners and losers.
As the city continues to grapple with news that its own female employees make, on average, nearly 10 percent less than its male employee, King County announced more promising statistics this week: Female county workers make, on average, 99.1 percent of what male workers make, a gender disparity that's both statistically insignificant and far more equitable than the 91 cents female city of Seattle employees make for every dollar earned by their male counterparts.
In the city as a whole, it's worth noting, the gender gap is much more stark than it is in city government: Women in Seattle make, on average, 73 cents for every dollar earned by men, which is worse than the national average of 77 percent. But 91 cents on the dollar isn't anything to brag about. And as of last year, that disparity was bad across all city departments but especially troubling in the the mayor's office, the city attorney's office, and the personnel department, where there were more women, but women made less, on average, than men. (SPD had more men than women, but women were paid less than men.)
In contrast, the county's analysis, which staffers presented to the county council's transportation, economy, and environment committee yesterday morning, found that more than half (60 percent) of county employees work in agencies where female pay exceeds male pay, although women were still underrepresented in the county as a whole (just 39.5 percent of all county employees are women) and overrepresented in administrative (i.e. traditionally "female") roles, which tend to pay less than traditionally "male" roles like mechanics and bus drivers.
"If you took out the transit [numbers], we would balance out more like 50-50 women," King County HR's Kendall LeVan Hodson told the council.
The county staffers didn't identify specific reasons for the relative lack of gender pay disparity in its ranks, although Hodson did mention a county program that aims to recruit more female bus mechanics.
Women who identified themselves as Hispanic or Pacific Islander made the least, as a percentage of men in the same racial groups—90.4 percent and 89.8 percent, respectively. But the biggest disparity was between white men and everybody else, with men of color making 89.8 percent of what white men make, and women of color making just 88 cents for every dollar earned by a white man.