Lady Business: You'd Make as Much as Men If You Shined Shoes

Picture of two white women in business suits high-fiving. Caption reads: Women: Like Men, Only Cheaper

The pay gap between men and women is discussed a lot, but two stories by and the Bloomberg News Service caught my attention recently because their lists of jobs where the pay gap is non-existent or quite small is…a little random. It turns out that women who work shining shoes, as butlers, or as videographers make nearly as much as their male counterparts.

Here’s Bloomberg:

Women who want to earn more on Wall Street than their male colleagues have one reliable option. They can set up a shoe-shine stand in Lower Manhattan. 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 data compiled by Bloomberg. 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.

Those are important jobs. Someone has to do them. But, really? Is this the best we can do?

The size of the remaining gap is most evident in high-paying jobs. It’s underscored by the disproportionate number of women in certain occupations. 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. Among the 265 occupations with more than 10,000 men and women employed, female registered nurses earned 92 cents for every $1 earned by male colleagues. Female flight attendants made 89 cents for every $1. Female hairdressers, stylists and cosmetologists made 68 cents for every $1 earned by a man. approaches things a little differently

According to Katie Bardaro, lead analyst at online salary database, the frequently quoted statistic that women earn 77 cents for every dollar men earn is based on an overview of all pay, for all jobs in every industry. “It doesn’t take into account factors such as women tending to take jobs in lower-paying industries such as healthcare or teaching,” Bardaro says. In fact, “if you hold everything constant, women and men hold the same wage in a variety of jobs.”

The top five, according to Monster, are: Systems Engineer, Electrical Engineer, Mechanical Engineer, Videographer, and Computer Repair Technician. I should have looked at the Department of Labor data before I went into one dying industry after another. Steven Ferry, chairman of the Institute of Modern Butlers says that butlers only making “$25,000 should be shot,” and he goes on to say that female butlers can be more nurturing. “And they’re often better eye candy.” And if that’s not incentive, I don’t know what is.

Previously: Ten Things That Would Have Been Good to Know At and After Graduation, When You Make More Money Than He Does

by Joshunda Sanders
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Joshunda Sanders is a Bronx native and the author of four books including two published last year, All City, a novella, and a memoir, The Beautiful Darkness: A Handbook for Orphans. She lives in New York City.

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3 Comments Have Been Posted


This was an interesting read, and a good overview to the pay gap and the possible reasons for said pay gap. But there's one thing I can't shake:


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