Looking For Pay Equity On Wall Street? Open A Shoe-Shine Stand.

Want to earn more than your male colleague on Wall Street? Set up a shoe-shine stand on the street itself. According to census data newly assembled by Bloomberg, the only category in which women regularly out-earned their male counterparts in 2010 was “personal care and service.” In that category, one of 265 measured by the large survey, women earned $1.02 to men’s $1.00. Woo hoo, equality!

Meanwhile, the six job categories with the widest pay gap were found in the financial sector: insurance agents, managers, clerks, securities sales agents, personal advisers and other specialists. Within the financial sector, the narrowest gap was between male and female bank tellers: a fine occupation, but not exactly masters of the universe.

Many “Main Street” professions showed big gaps, too: Female doctors earned 63 cents for every $1 made by a male doctor, a gap that has been growing in recent years.

The big picture is that this survey tells us something we already know: There remains a wage gap between men and women. And according to another survey from the Allstate Corporation and National Journal last week, the majority of Americans don’t expect it to go away.

There’s a lot of disagreement about whether that gap represents different work styles and priorities — men tend to work longer hours in more dangerous jobs, and don’t take years off after having children — or persistent discrimination. For what it’s worth, the poll last week showed that only a quarter of both men and women pinned the gap in pay equity on discrimination.

Mary Cranston, a retired senior partner at a high-end San Francisco law firm, tells Bloomberg BusinessWeek that female lawyers are often willing to trade high-pressure (and therefore high-pay) jobs for those that offer a better quality of life, with less travel and more flexible hours. The top law firms are still mostly male. “That’s changing gradually, but it’s a long, slow road,” she explains. “I don’t know when pay equality will happen.”

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