Congress’s top staffers wield the power on Capitol Hill. Here’s why the vast majority are male.
Each member of the House of Representatives can employ up to 18 full-time staff members. And while about half of all congressional staffers are women, the top positions are far more male-dominated. Women make up only 35 percent of chiefs of staff, 36 percent of deputy chiefs and 38 percent of all legislative directors in the House, according to data analyzed for The Lily by Casey Burgat, a senior governance fellow at R Street, a nonpartisan think tank, who used payment records compiled by LegiStorm. (Those numbers were lower before the swell of female members in the 116th Congress took their seats.)
Across the board, high-level staffers working for Republican members skew far more male than those working for Democrats.
The top staffers in a congressional office are both researching and writing the member’s proposed policies, said Burgat, who wrote his dissertation on congressional staffs. The chief of staff, in particular, has an incredible amount of power, he said. “They speak on behalf of the member; they carry the authority of the member. They are the glue that holds the whole thing together.”