Step inside Salt Lake City’s Pallet Bistro and you’ll likely see Ashleigh Hamilton’s smiling face. Hamilton has been a server at pallet since it first opened.
“She’s always enthusiastic, she’s very reliable. We’re very lucky to have her,” said Pallet owner, Esther Imotan.
Especially since Hamilton could be teaching at a private school. You see, Ashleigh has a master’s degree in theology!
“About three weeks into being here I decided to quit my job. My mom wasn’t too happy about that,” Hamilton said.
She does plan on going back to her career eventually. But what’s more surprising than the fact she left, is that it didn’t affect her bottom dollar.
“I’m actually making similar to what I was making when I was a teacher,” she said.
Back in 2011, serving was one of 15 jobs where women made more than men. But, University of Utah economics professor Gunseli Berik says new data just released this month shows that has changed.
“According to the latest statistics women actually earn less than men in all but one detailed occupations,” Berik said.
That one full-time job is a stock clerk. According to the bureau of labor statistics, female servers now make just 97% of what male servers earn. If you look at the 10 professions with the smallest wage gap, the list includes maids, cooks, social workers and bus drivers.
“I think we still have quite a bit sort of our gender norms are based on that these careers are more appropriate for women,” Berik said.
According to Berik, all of those careers are low paying and have a serving or nurturing aspect to them. In these jobs a woman can make anywhere from 94% to 100% of what men take home. That’s a much smaller gap than the average of $.78 on the dollar.
When we look at the 78 cents on the dollar number it’s really sort of a very summery indicator of a much more complicated problem,” Berik said.
It’s a problem without a clear-cut solution, and it gets even worse in the state of Utah. Just ask the staff at Pallet.
“I would actually have to say, just about every female on this staff has a degree if not a master’s degree,” Hamilton said.
While that may mean a better dining experience for people in Salt Lake, a statement like that has to make you wonder, are we doing something wrong.