Politics and the Gender Pay Gap

Can political positioning affect paychecks?
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Can political positioning affect paychecks?

(Photo: Harry Dempster/Getty Images)

What are your boss’ politics? If you’re a woman, they may influence the size of your paycheck. Aparna Joshi and Forrest Briscoe of Pennsylvania State University studied internal records of a large United States law firm over several years and compared the salaries of hundreds of lawyers to the political donation records of their supervisors. “We found the gender gap in performance-based pay was greatly reduced for workers tied to liberal supervisors,” they write in the Academy of Management Journal.

As the associates working under conservative supervisors moved up in seniority, the difference between the men’s and women’s salaries grew, rising to over $15,000 annually. It’s not clear how well these findings generalize to other businesses, but the researchers suspect this dynamic will be found in other workplaces “where supervisors tend to lack objective performance indicators, and must therefore rely more on subjective discretion.” Or their implicit biases.

Explore more stories from the March/April 2017 issue of Pacific Standard.