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The gender pay gap may be getting worse

The gender gap in employment is often presented as the number of cents women earn on the dollar, compared to men. It is related to, but not the same as the call for women to earn equal pay for equal work. For instance, if all the high-paying jobs at a company are reserved for men, that company may still be able to claim that women earn equal pay for equal work. The situation is blatantly discriminatory and unfair, but technically women and men who have the exact same job are paid equally. The gender gap takes a broader view.

A recent study conducted by the Institute for Women's Policy Research found that women earned slightly less than half of what med earned from 2001 to 2015. Most estimations of the gender pay gap have suggested that women earn between 70 and 80 cents on the dollar, compared to men. This study paints a different picture, in part, because it does not ignore certain aspects of the inequality faced by women. 

One of the largest problems with previous estimates of the pay gap was that they ignored the impact of short-term absences from the labor market. Women are far more likely to have to drop out of the workforce to have and care for children than men. When these women return, it is often back at square one. This is one of the many reasons why labor rights leaders call for paid family leave and why women's rights leaders raise the issue of affordable child care. 

The differences in how men and women are treated when it comes to their careers are astounding. Any discussion of the gender pay gap should take an honest, and long-term, view of what is facing women when it comes to equality in the working world.

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