Good News: Ladies Can Close the Wall Street Wage Gap by Shining Shoes

Illustration for article titled Good News: Ladies Can Close the Wall Street Wage Gap by Shining Shoes

At the rate workplace gender equality is improving, women won't get paid as much as men until 2056. Which is a shame, as most of us will be retired by then if not, you know, dead.


Bloomberg compiled a bunch of census data and found that only one of 265 major occupations pays a larger median salary to women: personal care and service workers. Hooray: butlers, valets, house sitters and shoe shiners earn $1.02 for every $1 their male counterparts make. But before you jump out of your chair with joy to punch that glass ceiling, note that the (male) chairman of the International Institute of Modern Butlers thinks this is because women are more "nurturing" and better "eye candy." Sitting back down? Here's how bad it is in other sectors:

Wall Street: This is where you'll find the largest salary gap. The financial sector pays insurance agents, managers, clerks, securities sales agents, and personal advisers 55-62 cents for every $1 made by men. Female bank tellers come closest to narrowing the gap, earning 96 cents for every $1 earned by men. Louise Marie Roth, sociologist and author of "Selling Women Short: Gender and Money on Wall Street," said that women often don't even know they're being underpaid since Wall Street bonuses, which comprise a large percentage of ones' salary, are kept secret. Sneaky — those ladies don't even know what they're missing!

Doctors: Female doctors make 63 cents for every $1 earned by male physicians and surgeons.

Lawyers: Women make 78 cents for every dollar earned by their male peers.

Professors: Female university professors earn 80 cents for every dollar men do, even though the percentage of full-time female university professors has grown from 10 percent in 1981 to 28 percent, and women made up 57 percent of undergraduate students and 59 percent of graduate students in 2009.

CEOs: Lady chief executives earn 74 cents for every $1 made by male counterparts.

Secretaries: Around 96 percent of the 2.6 million secretaries and administrative assistants in the U.S. are women, but they'res still paid 87 cents for every $1 made by men in their field.


Nurses: Women earn 92 cents for every $1 earned by male colleagues.

Flight attendants: Women earn 89 cents for every $1.

Hairdressers, stylists and cosmetologists: Women make 68 cents for every $1 earned by a man.


According to an Allstate study released today, most Americans say that having a majority of women in the workforce is an "encouraging trend" and more than half of American men and women consider gender diversity to have a "positive impact" on the economic health of the country. Well, that's a nice sentiment! Maybe they haven't seen these statistics, because the same study found that only 27% of Americans cite gender discrimination as the best explanation for the wage gap. That means most men and women think they're totally equal in the eyes of the workforce — just, you know, not equal enough to get paid the same amount of money.

Perhaps the general public thinks the battle for gender equality is over because women are doing better than ever: over the last 50 years, the median-pay disparity for all occupations raised from 61 cents to 77 cents for every $1 earned by men. Or maybe it's because most chalk up wage disparity to out-of-office issues: although full-time female employees are now better educated, less likely to be married and more likely to delay childbirth, the Allstate study found that 49% of women and 39% of men think the wage gap is caused by the fact that many women leave jobs, scale back their hours and dedicate more time than men to family care responsibilities. And analysts don't think things will get better anytime soon. "We don't see the pay gap closing," Ilene H. Lang, president and chief executive officer of Catalyst, a nonprofit advocacy group, told Bloomberg. Researchers who track specific pay disparities in different fields say gaps haven't really budged in decades and aren't explainable by work hours or speciality choice. The National Partnership for Women & Families found that the overall wage gap has only narrowed by one-half of a cent every year since 1963, meaning, as we said, that women won't get paid as much as men until 2056—almost a full century later.


Despite all this, 75% of women currently believe they can advance in the workplace regardless of gender, according to Allstate. And more than two-thirds of women say they have more opportunity to get ahead than their mothers did, while only 45% of men say they think they'll do better than their fathers. Now, that's a big disparity. But data doesn't back it up yet, which is why Bloomberg dryly notes that the best way for women to beat the gender gap on Wall Street is to set up a shoe shining business.

Shining Shoes Best Way Wall Street Women Outearn Men [Bloomberg Businessweek]
NEW POLL: Americans See Progress in a Closing Gender Gap; Women and Men Willingly Make Trade-Offs to Balance Work and Family Life [Allstate]


Image via Darrin HenryShutterstock.



I believe there is a large problem with Americans in general, and women especially, identifying solely as individuals who are not in fact a member of their particular discriminated-against demographic, but somehow they are apart, an outlier, above the fray. How else can you explain the vast majorities of poor people who vote for Republicans, the 75% of women optimistic about their workplace advancement, or all those Republican women who take birth control that is covered by their insurance? Americans have always celebrated the rogue individual that manages to overcome their particular challenges (hence the "pull yourself up by your bootstraps" argument). Are we so tuned into the message of individualism as a country that we cannot identify serious social and cultural problems as directly affecting us as individuals? Until we have large numbers of people identifying themselves as members of a particular sidelined group and making a lot of noise about it (in this case, employed women), nothing will change.