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  • Photographs taken in 1972 for a project titled

I is for Insurance Agent

The last few years have seen both some impressive gains and some frustrating hurdles for women in the insurance industry that have yet to be overcome. For a long time, the insurance industry has been known as a man’s world. As women found more professional opportunities in the latter half of the 20th century, many women made careers for themselves working as insurance agents and carved out a significant chunk of the industry: Nearly 65% of insurance underwriters were women in 2015. While this may look like good news on the surface, unfortunately the average income of a woman working in the insurance services industry is only 62.2% of what their male counterparts make. In all other industries, the average discrepancy is 82.2%. Though there are roughly an equal number of women and men working in the insurance industry, only 12.6% of board seats at insurance companies are held by women, and only 6% have women in top executive positions. In a recent survey, 82% of women working in the insurance industry said that gender inequality is still an issue in the American insurance industry. According to a report by the National Bureau of Economic Research, the pay disparity between men and women can in part be traced to the hiring process. Because women are less likely to negotiate their starting salary than their male counterparts are, women start the job earning less. By taking the initiative and negotiating their starting salaries with their new employers, women can at least in part offset the existing disparity by doing the same thing the men do: demand more for the value of their work.

Adapted from

Bonnie Daniels, Insurance Agent

North Syracuse, New York 1972

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