Remember that whole "equal pay for equal work" issue? You know, that documented fact that women earn on average seventy-eight cents for every dollar a man makes? It’s easy to forget, especially given that the issue only seems to come up once every four years, in a Democratic Presidential primary debate. And then most people (women included) pretty much forget about the whole thing for the next four years. I mean, with all the shoe shopping we ladies do, who has time?

Well, according to some new number crunching by the Census Bureau, women should worry less about buying shoes and more about shining them. As it turns out, that’s the one job that women will make more money than men doing. Bloomberg Businessweek breaks it down for us:

“Female personal care and service workers, which include butlers, valets, house sitters and shoe shiners, earned $1.02 for every $1 their male counterparts made in 2010, according to Census Bureau data. That job category, which covers 38,210 full-time workers in the U.S., was the only one of 265 major occupations where the median female salary exceeded the amount paid to men.”

The twenty-first century has brought progress! Sure, women are still expected to wait on men, but now we’re paid for it! What more could we want? But don’t think getting a historically "female" job will guarantee you a better wage gap either:

“About 96 percent of the 2.6 million secretaries and administrative assistants in the U.S. are women. They’re paid 87 cents for every $1 made by a male secretary… Female hairdressers, stylists and cosmetologists made 68 cents for every $1 earned by a man.”

This might help explain why so much of the fashion and style industry aimed at women remains run and designed by men. But if women are (in general) most fairly compensated for work society thinks they “should” be doing, it’s also interesting to take a look at the jobs they're paid least for.

“The six jobs with the largest gender gap in pay and at least 10,000 men and 10,000 women were in the Wall Street-heavy financial sector: insurance agents, managers, clerks, securities sales agents, personal advisers and other specialists. Advanced-degree professions proved no better predictors of equality. Female doctors made 63 cents for every $1 earned by male physicians and surgeons, the data show. Female chief executives earned 74 cents for every $1 made by male counterparts.”

So basically, if you consider compensation a way we incentivize work, women are least encouraged to handle other people’s money. As for other professions, surgeons, professors, and lawyers don't do much better. They all make roughly 78 cents on the dollar compared to their male colleagues.

So what can women do, besides setting up shop as a housekeeper/butler/shoe shiner? Well, for one thing, they can make it a point to be aggressive in contract negotiations. They can ask and research what the men around them are making, and demand that sum. Which, in a society with a struggling economy and harsh opinions about “pushy” women, is harder than you’d think.

Men and women can also demand that their representatives actually talk about equal pay once they’re off the stump and in office. This nifty link should help you get your armchair activism on.

Pushy lady, signing out.

Commentarium (8 Comments)

Mar 23 12 - 2:39pm

So if a business wants to save money, it should only hire women.

Mar 24 12 - 3:04am

And mexicans.

Mar 25 12 - 3:00pm

As a mexican, im offended by your comment, but it was funny.

Mar 23 12 - 5:53pm

women are over 50% of the electorate, however, there still is a big number of women who don't vote! To me that's stupid and outrageous.

Also, I always have resented that men gay or straight dominate the fashion industry and dictate what we wear. I have never been comfortable with that. Very few women designers decide what men wear. And yes, I am a fashion conscious woman, and I buy women designers when ever I can.

Mar 24 12 - 5:44pm

So... you're saying that you're sexist because you make sure not do buy from qualified male designers for no other reason that they have a penis?

Designers don't decide what you wear. You do. And you are sexist.

Mar 25 12 - 5:49pm

I'm getting my masters in fashion design and it really pisses my tutor off when men think they know what a woman should look like - because it comes from their fantasies and pre conceived notions of how they like women to look. She keeps telling the male womenswear designers to keep trying things on actual women because often their garments are made impossible for women to move in or are much too small to be wearable, even on fit models who are very tiny to begin with. She keeps telling them to look at what their female counterparts are wearing and to take note of it. Obviously there are incredible male designers, no doubt, but it is odd that many gay males who design have the least experience with actual women's bodies than anything else. And i think female fashionistas often seem to think that they must know something about style/design that us women folk aren't privy to and thus give them more power in their fashion choices than they sometimes deserve.

Also, NotChristian, in a perfect world we would have this choice on who to wear but it's not really obvious unless you're buying super high end who designed the clothes. I could buy from a female named label which is in fact actually designed by a guy. Or what about H&M or a similar brand? Who knows what comes from where?

Mar 24 12 - 11:42am

Women don't make less than men... it's illegal. That statistic that shows that women make "seventy-eight cents for every dollar a man makes" is based on taking the total salaries for every woman and man in the US and averaging them and comparing them without factoring in very important details such as position, experience, education, and a ton more... so, it's pretty much worthless.

Now, once women start getting into more and more C-level positions (which is happening at a fantastic rate), working in more high paying positions (and that's not just corporate, but other, gross or dangerous jobs that pay more), then that average will go up.

If you want our respect for women's suffrage, then at least get your friggin' math correct.

Mar 24 12 - 5:49pm

No, those statistics DO take into account position. However, they don't take into account things such as attendance, hours worked, competence, years worked and workers that stave off retirement, all categories where men FAR exceed women. Women don't get paid less because they are women, they get payed less because they call in sick when on their period, quit in order to have babies, and don't work as hard or as long each day. Men make more money because they are more valuable as employees.