Short answer: In 2016, no gap at city hall and smaller-than-average gaps for residents and workers in West Hollywood


The gender pay gap is the difference between women’s earnings and men’s earnings. For example, in 2016, women working full-time in the US earned 80% of what men earned. That’s called the “earnings ratio.” It means that the gender pay gap was 20%. In California, the earnings ratio was 88%, so the gap was 12%.

The gender pay gap is a broad measure of inequality. It doesn’t tell us anything about causation. It doesn’t specifically test whether women are getting equal pay for equal work. We have to draw on other research to explore those issues (see below).

West Hollywood

We looked at three groups in West Hollywood: city staff, everyone working in the city, and residents. The estimated earnings ratios ranged from 93% to 100%. Therefore, the pay gaps ranged from 0% to 7%. That’s smaller than average. In 2016, the gap was 20% in the US, 12% in California, and 10% in metropolitan Los Angeles.

Notes: (1) Based on median earnings (such as salaries) for full-time, year-round workers. Median means 50th percentile, the middle or “typical” situation. Using averages instead would yield larger gap estimates. (2) The number for workers is a very rough estimate due to limited data. Sources: US Census Bureau, American Community Survey (ACS), 2012-2016 and 2016; IPUMS USA (individual-level data from the ACS); Transparent California; our analysis.

City staff

Based on our rough estimates, West Hollywood was the only Westside city without a gender pay gap among city staff in 2016. The West Hollywood numbers don’t include the Los Angeles County Sheriff or Los Angeles County Fire. Those organizations serve the city, but they have their own staffs and make their own personnel decisions.

Our rough estimate for Santa Monica’s staff was next at 7%. Los Angeles reported their gap was 17% (2013). Our numbers for Culver City and Beverly Hills were 21% and 27%, respectively.

Notes: (1) Women’s median full-time pay divided by men’s median full-time pay. (2) The limited dataset we had didn’t include gender, so we made educated guesses based on given names for 98% of staff members. (3) We didn’t have the data to correct for mid-year hires/exits. (4) The Los Angeles number was calculated by them, probably using average earnings. (5) For comparison, the gap for Los Angeles County’s staff was 24% in fiscal year 2015, according to a state audit. Sources: Transparent California; City of Los Angeles, “Report on the Status of Women and Girls, Part 2: Leadership,” undated; our analysis.

A big part of the gender pay gap in the other cities came from their fire and police departments. Those departments have higher average pay and a higher percentage of men on staff. That means they add more to male earnings than they do to female earnings, widening the gap.

In the chart below, we redid our estimates without the fire and police departments. Santa Monica and Culver City joined West Hollywood in the no-gap category. Beverly Hills still had a gap, but it was much smaller, 7% down from 27%.

Notes: (1) We excluded anyone who had “police” or “fire” in their job title. (2) We don’t have an estimate for Los Angeles. (3) A statistical test confirmed that the Beverly Hills gap reflected an uneven distribution of women among job titles, not pay inequality within a job title. Sources: Transparent California; our analysis.


Among West Hollywood residents, the gender pay gap was 7%. The median woman made 93 cents for every dollar the median man made. That’s a Census Bureau estimate for 2012 through 2016. However, the margin of error is wide. The gap could have been much bigger or non-existent.

The estimated gap was similar in Culver City: 5%. Santa Monica and Beverly Hills had bigger gaps, 19% and 38% respectively. Los Angeles had almost no gender pay gap (2%), but it had lower median incomes for both women and men.

Source: ACS, 2012-2016, Table S2412.


We believe the wage gap for people working in West Hollywood was somewhere around 5% from 2012 to 2016, based on median earnings. Our estimates for the other Westside cities are all in a similar single-digit range. The numbers are very rough, because of limited data.

Our estimate for workers in West Hollywood: 95% earnings ratio, 5% gender pay gap

Our estimation methodology was based on an observation and a simplifying assumption. We observed that the gender pay gap varies widely among industries. We assumed that the overall gap in West Hollywood differs from the overall gap in the larger area only because West Hollywood has a different mix of industries. That allowed us to apply the city’s industry mix to pay inequality data from the larger area.

The chart below shows the gender pay gap by industry in metropolitan Los Angeles. It ranges from 0% to 38%. The top four categories are oil & gas (38%), finance (33%), holding companies/headquarters (33%), and public administration (28%). At the other end, the construction industry is gap-free, as are companies that provide administrative, support, or waste management services.

Note: These numbers are for metropolitan Los Angeles, which covers Los Angeles and Orange counties. For our estimates, we instead used detailed data from a smaller geography, the Place of Work Public Use Microdata Area (PWPUMA) that includes West Hollywood. Sources: ACS, Table S2414, 2016; our analysis.

Explaining the gap

Researchers at Cornell University divided the national gender pay gap into pieces that could be explained by quantifiable factors. Two obvious factors in setting pay, education and experience, explained only 8% of the gap. In the year they examined, it was only 2 cents out of a 23-cent gap.

Sources: Francine D. Blau and Lawrence M. Kahn (Cornell), “The Gender Wage Gap: Extent, Trends, and Explanations,” NBER Working Paper Series, January 2016; our analysis.

The biggest piece covered occupation and industry. Those two factors explained half of the wage gap, 12 out of 23 cents. There’s an implicit “occupational sorting” that results in proportionately fewer women in higher-paying occupations and industries.

In the end, the Cornell analysis found that almost 40% of the gap couldn’t be explained. It amounted to 9 cents out of the 23-cent gap. For comparison, a study by Glassdoor found an unexplained gap of 5 cents on the dollar when they compared men and women working in the same job for the same company at the same location. Whether it’s 5 cents or 9 cents, we assume the unexplained piece captures some but not all of the effects of discrimination. Discrimination may also affect the other components of the gender wage gap. WarrenGovernmentPeoplebeverly hills,culver city,los angeles,santa monica
Short answer: In 2016, no gap at city hall and smaller-than-average gaps for residents and workers in West Hollywood| The gender pay gap is the difference between women's earnings and men's earnings. For example, in 2016, women working full-time in the US earned 80% of what men earned. That's...