What Shining Shoes Means for Salary Negotiation

Libby Kane
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The news that women can achieve pay parity with men by working in the shoe-shine business has gained some serious internet traction.

The wage gap, the fact that women make about 70 cents for each dollar a man makes in a similar position, is a recognized and bemoaned truth of the working world. Now, figures from a survey conducted by Bloomberg show that the wage gap has been reversed … in some fields.

Female personal care and service workers, such as valets, butlers, house sitters and shoe shiners (side note: Who has a butler anymore?) actually earned $1.02 for each dollar earned by their male counterparts in 2010.

The Gap Persists Among Highest-Paying Professions

Less cool news: There are 425 major job categories, and “personal care and service worker” is the only one where women’s median salary exceeds men’s. On the other end of the spectrum, the jobs with the largest pay gaps include insurance agents, managers, clerks, securities sales agents and personal advisers. Bloomberg points out that advanced degrees don’t even the playing field: A female doctor makes 63 cents to the male dollar, and a female chief executive makes 74 cents to that dollar.

What We Can Learn From This Data

Sigh. While we’re somewhat stymied by the social factors that lead to the wage gap (women being drawn to jobs in lower-paying fields, women losing ground in the workforce after maternity leave), there’s one takeaway from this data that gives us confidence: We are completely justified in aggressively negotiating our salary. Especially if you work in a male-dominated field, there is some man, somewhere, being paid more than you are to do the same job you are. So do your research, prepare your case and negotiate without qualms.

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