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What is the Gender Pay Gap?
More Focused Comparison
Pay Gap Differs by Ethnic Group
Civil Service and Exempt Executives
On January 27, 2022, Governor Gavin Newsom and First Partner Jennifer Siebel Newsom signed the “California Equal Pay Pledge,” an initiative the First Partner launched to close the gender pay gap. The pledge commits employers to conduct “an annual company-wide gender pay analysis, reviewing hiring and promotion processes and procedures to reduce unconscious bias and structural barriers, and promoting best practices that will close the pay gap to ensure fundamental equity for all workers.”
In an effort to meet this challenge, CalHR re-evaluated how it analyzes state employee compensation and demographic data for its annual Women’s Earnings in State Civil Service Report. Beyond reporting the statewide gender pay gap, CalHR explored factors contributing to the gender pay gap by analyzing the gender pay gap at the bargaining unit, occupation, and classification level. This approach allows the Administration to develop targeted strategies that could help close the statewide gender pay gap, as well as any bargaining unit, occupation, or classification level gender pay gap.
Initiatives to Broaden and Diversify Applicants for State Jobs and Make the State Workplace More Inclusive
Since 2011, CalHR (previously the Department of Personnel Administration) has initiated a series of new policies, programs, and resources to help diversify the applicant pool for state jobs and promote a more inclusive workplace.
The state of California created its first jobs website in 2012. In 2016, CalHR significantly redesigned the jobs website (CalCareers.ca.gov), which made it easier for job-seekers to find and apply for state jobs online.
In 2011, 93 civil service examinations were available online. As of 2021, the state’s jobs website had 481 online civil service examinations.
Since 2017, departments have been required to advertise all civil service vacancies a minimum of 10 business days on the state’s jobs website – in an effort to increase the applicant pool and make applying for state jobs more equitable. In 2021, more than 41,000 job postings were advertised on the state’s jobs website.
In 2016, CalHR re-designed its Best Hiring Practices curriculum for state human resources professionals to include guidance for using unbiased interviewing and screening criteria for state jobs. In 2020, CalHR started providing implicit bias training to promote a more diverse and equitable workplace and has since added several more courses focusing on the broader topic of diversity, equity, and inclusion. More than 1,500 state employees have attended these courses collectively.
Since 2017, CalHR has delivered mandatory training to nearly 7,000 new-to-role supervisors, managers, and executives through the California Leadership Academy training program. The purpose of the California Leadership Academy is to provide supervisors, managers, and executives with the tools they need to lead and empower their teams through performance development and process improvement. Diversity, equity, inclusion, and implicit bias topics are interwoven throughout each course.
In 2020, CalHR implemented a new Discrimination Complaint Tracking and Monitoring Unit to maintain statewide oversight of the collection and analysis of Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) complaint data across all state departments. The first annual report was published in early 2022. As additional data is collected, trends and patterns are being identified that will lead to improvements in how discrimination and harassment complaints are addressed.
In 2017, the Government Operations Agency (GovOps) partnered with the Division of Apprenticeship Standards at the Department of Industrial Relations, and Service Employees International Union Local 1000, to pilot a non-traditional apprenticeship program in occupational sectors outside the building trades as a career development and succession management strategy. Since its inception, 105 state employees have graduated from this program, and the pilot has grown to include three Information Technology and one Financial Services programs. It was transferred to CalHR in 2021 for further development and expansion to a true statewide program.
In 2017, CalHR released the Workforce and Succession Plan Requirement Policy to require all state organizations with civil service employees to maintain current workforce and succession plans, and report to CalHR annually on the status of those plans. This proactive and strategic approach to recruit, develop and retain a skilled and diverse workforce ensures organizations can deliver on their critical missions now and in the future. The policy includes guidelines and references tools and resources that assist departments in identifying their workforce’s demographic makeup, competencies, and classification risks with the intent of developing and implementing appropriate mitigation strategies.
While it is difficult to quantify the effects of these initiatives, CalHR believes they have helped the state broaden its pool of candidates for state jobs and promoted a more diverse and inclusive workplace.
In the Fall of 2019, Governor Newsom convened Executive Branch leaders to discuss how to create a more inclusive, respectful, and equitable state workplace that reflects the values of a California for All. Attendees of this forum volunteered to participate in four task forces—Sexual Harassment and Discrimination Prevention and Response, Diversity and Inclusion, Public Safety Diversity, and Racial and Gender Pay Equity. CalHR secured funding in the Governor’s 2022-23 Budget to begin implementation of the task force recommendations. See
New Initiatives to Address the Gender Pay Gap at the end of this report for more details on CalHR’s new initiatives that could help close the gender pay gap.
On September 13, 2022, Governor Newsom signed
Executive Order N-16-22 that requires, among other things, departments to embed explicit analysis of equity considerations in policies and practices and to take concrete steps to address existing disparities in opportunities and outcomes. The Executive Order furthers the Administration’s commitment to a California for All that supports every Californian’s opportunity to achieve a better life, regardless of where they start out.
In 2022 Governor Newsom also signed bills focused on advancing pay equity through CalHR action:
AB 316 of 2022 by Assemblymember Jim Cooper (D-Elk Grove) requires departments to establish a plan to address underutilization of specific groups as documented by their workforce analysis and adds additional reporting requirements related to pay equity.
AB 1604 of 2022 by Assemblymember Chris Holden (D-Pasadena) will provide state employees with greater opportunity to move upward within state service through improvements and best practices in processes for hiring, recruiting, and retaining a diverse workforce.
CalHR prepared this report for the Legislature in accordance with Government Code section 19827.2 prior to its amendment in September 2022. Future reports will provide additional data and analysis to comply with the statutory amendments of Assembly Bill 316 (Cooper).
This report is based on data from December 2021 and includes contextual data dating back to 2011.
Authority to compile this report derives from Title 2, Division 5, Part 2of the California Government Code, and does not include information for those exempted from civil service status under Article VII, Section 4 of the California State Constitution, except where exempt executive pay is discussed.
The “gender pay gap” is an equality measure comparing the median earnings of women and men. Once a year the state compares the median base pay of male civil service employees with the median base pay of female civil service employees. This “dollar” difference is converted to a percentage. A pay gap of 20 percent would mean that females earn 80 percent of the male median base salary. It is important to note, base pay does not include pay differentials, extended duty week compensation, or overtime pay.
There are two steps for calculating the gender pay gap:
To find the median pay by gender, the base pay for all full-time civil service female and male workers is separately arranged from high to low. The median is then identified – meaning half of the salaries are above and half are below. Monthly base pay for females and males is displayed in the chart below. Female monthly base pay is represented by the blue bar on the left, and male monthly base pay is represented by the grey bar on the right. The white line represents where the median base pay is located in each bar. As of 2021, the median monthly pay for women was $6,539, and $7,648 for men.
Chart 2: Maximum, Median, and Minimum Monthly Base Pay in 2021
Calculating the Gender Pay Gap: Calculate the Percentage Difference in Pay
Next, the median base pay for women is divided by the median base pay for men. This produces a ratio, which in this case, is 85.5 percent.
This ratio is often expressed in terms of dollars and cents when discussing the gender pay gap. For example, this could be expressed as women earn 86 cents compared to each dollar earned by men. To turn this ratio into a pay gap, the 85.5 percent is subtracted from 100 percent, which produces a gender pay gap of 14.5 percent.
Accordingly, 14.5 percent is the California state civil service gender pay gap for 2021.
Since 2011, the state has made more progress in closing the gender pay gap (from 21.4 percent to 14.5 percent) than the U.S. labor market. For several years, the gender pay gap in California’s Civil Service has been lower than the national gender pay gap. The labor market data for median pay by gender originates from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey estimates for 2011 through 2021.
Women Are Better Represented in California Civil Service Jobs than in the California or U.S. Labor Markets
California’s state civil service employs a larger share of female workers than the California or U.S. labor market. However, between 2011 and 2021, the share of women employed in the state’s civil service has declined by 0.6 percent, while the share of women in the California and U.S. Labor Markets increased between 0.3 and 0.4 percent during the same period.
Comparing the Gender Pay Gap by Bargaining Unit
Since 1982, most of California’s civil service employees have been grouped into different bargaining units, each representing different professions and occupations. It is possible to compare the median pay for females and males within each bargaining unit to see if there is a gender pay gap.
Overall, about 58 percent of represented state employees were in a bargaining unit where there was a female gender pay gap in 2021.
The chart below illustrates that in 2021, there was a female pay gap in 11 bargaining units, no pay gap in seven units, and a male pay gap (because the median pay for men was lower than median pay for women) in three units.
Comparing the Gender Pay Gap within Detailed Occupations
As a case study, we can look at the five occupations where the most state workers are employed.
 The chart below illustrates there is a large gender pay gap for women in these occupations in the U.S. Labor Market, while the median pay for rank-and-file female and male state employees is very similar.
Comparing the Gender Pay Gap within Classifications
The most refined analysis comes from comparing how males and females are paid within state classifications. As shown below, fewer than one third of state classifications show a female pay gap. The classification system reduces the risk of pay gaps because state civil service employees are paid within a prescribed pay range for each classification. Most employees do not negotiate a starting salary, a practice that is much more common in the private sector. Employees typically start at the minimum salary and progress over time to the maximum salary of the range. For many state classifications that can take up to five years. Any gender pay gaps within state classifications are primarily driven by a larger share of men or women at one end of the pay range.
The chart below illustrates two major takeaways when analyzing the gender pay gap at the classification level
Understanding What Drives the Gender Pay Gap
How state employees are paid within different bargaining units has a significant impact on the statewide gender pay gap. Eighty-two percent of full-time state civil service employees work in a classification represented by one of the 21 bargaining units. Salaries negotiated for each unit drives the statewide median pay for both genders. Chart 11 shows the bargaining units arranged by median base pay, from low to high. The statewide monthly median pay for female and male employees is inserted in between the monthly median base pay for each bargaining unit.
Chart 12 shows the representation of female and male workers within each bargaining unit. More women than men are employed in a bargaining unit on the lower end of the median pay spectrum (75 percent compared to 54 percent).
A gender pay gap can also be calculated by ethnic group. This is accomplished by comparing each group’s median pay to the median pay for all male employees. In the chart below the monthly median base pay and gender pay gap is displayed for women, by ethnic group, along with the statewide monthly median base pay for all women and all men. In 2021, the gender pay gap for Native American, Hispanic, Pacific Islander, and Black women was higher than the statewide female pay gap. The gender pay gap for White and Asian women was lower than the statewide female pay gap.
Bargaining Unit Membership Explains Median Pay
The charts below and on the following page summarize the percentage of female employees in one of three categories: bargaining units where the median base pay is higher than Unit 1, 7 or 18; Unit 1, 7 or 18 (near the female median base pay); and bargaining units where the median base pay is lower than Unit 1, 7 or 18.
By comparing the percentage of women in different bargaining units, it becomes clear how this is impacting the median pay for women in different ethnic groups.
To the left of the yellow dotted line in the chart above, 29 to 36 percent of Native American, Hispanic, Pacific Islander, or Black women are employed in a job represented by a bargaining unit earning less than Unit 1, 7, or 18.
By contrast, to the right of the yellow dotted line, a relatively small percentage (20 to 23 percent) of White and Asian women are in a bargaining unit earning less than Unit 1, 7 or 18. Just as important, a higher percentage of these women were employed in a job represented by a bargaining unit earning more.
The state has made even more progress in increasing female representation in high-level executive positions (positions exempt from civil service hiring rules), of which most are appointed by the Governor. In 2011, women were 47 percent of high-level exempt executives, and as of 2021, they were 54 percent.
Comparing the Gender Pay Gap for Civil Service Executives
Levels for Civil Service Executives (CEAs)
Women are Well Represented in Civil Service Executive Positions
Comparing the Gender Pay Gap for Non-Civil Service Executive Positions
Women are Well Represented in Executive-Level Exempt Positions
New Initiatives to Address the Gender Pay Gap