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New Gender Pay-Gap Studies Are Challenging Conventional Wisdom

  • Using median pay for all workers, women make 21% less than men
  • Adjusted for factors such as hours, gap may be as little as 3%
The U.S. is the only nation in the developed world that doesn’t mandate maternity leave with pay.

The U.S. is the only nation in the developed world that doesn’t mandate maternity leave with pay.

Source: Getty Images

The number is trotted out so often to make a point that it’s become unambiguous: Women in the U.S. earn about 79 cents for every dollar that men do. But recent studies paint a more nuanced picture of the wage gap.

Taking into account several factors, the difference could be just pennies, the studies, from think tanks on different places on the political spectrum, found. Women may make less because they decide to work fewer hours, or because scarce child-care options give them no choice. Some are blocked out of jobs by physical abilities and education. That’s not to say there isn’t discrimination, the studies noted, though it’s responsible for a small part of the chasm.