89% of Women Working on Capitol Hill Have Experienced Sexism

89% of women working on Capitol Hill have experienced sexism, according to a study conducted by National Journal.

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The publication anonymously surveyed over 500 women workers and found at least 98% see sexism on Capitol Hill—2% did not respond; zero women said there is no sexism on Capitol Hill.

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58% of those surveyed were Democrats and 41% were Republicans (1% chose not to answer). Ages were equitably distributed, from 23 to 60. The women surveyed worked as chiefs and deputy chiefs of staff, legislative and communications directors, and legislative assistants and press secretaries, in both the House and Senate. 69% worked for men.

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Women also shared the hardships they have endured with National Journal:

  • One recalled women “had to work double overtime to get” to their positions, noting that “Being a woman on Capitol Hill in a senior role is an accomplishment.”
  • When asked “when being a woman helps” on Capitol Hill, another worker replied “Unfortunately, I can’t recall any examples.”
  • A woman told National Journal “There is a great deal of favoritism in my office. The women work the hardest and the men get all the benefits. … It’s a boy’s club and the women are rarely invited.”
  • Another recalled discovering that she was offered to be paid only 76% of what the man who previously did her exact same job was paid.
  • “No matter how hard I work or what I achieve, there is always a discussion about what clothes I wear, what shoes I wear, and if I smile enough,” a staffer recalled.
  • “Women are always given the office housework,” said another.
  • “I struggle to wear the mask of indifference that is required for a woman to be taken seriously,” a woman noted.
  • Another explained that, “As a new Senate staffer back in 1990 and working for leadership, I was sexually harassed on a daily basis by a chief of staff who pressured me to have a drink after work, asked me about the color of my underwear, and loved giving me back rubs while I was typing memos. He treated all the young women the same way. It was a very hostile workplace, yet not uncommon for the time.”
  • An interviewee noted that “Woman-on-woman sexism is rampant.”
  • A worker revealed “For the most part, the Hill has been much less sexist than what I have experienced in other industries in Washington, D.C., especially K Street” (K Street refers to the lobbying industry), indicating that, while sexism is clearly rampant on Capitol Hill, it is even worse elsewhere.