Shining shoes is the best way for women to earn as much as men

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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.