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Earning less money isn't a choice that women just make

Emily Peck writes, "Women don’t choose to make less money than men. But that’s often the criticism leveled when we talk about the gender pay gap, or the fact that women, on average, make only 79 cents for every dollar a man earns.

The argument typically is: Women look for work in lower-paying professions, so of course they make less than men.

Elise Gould, a senior economist at the Economic Policy Institute, has heard that claim a lot since she published research showing that women earn $4 an hour less than men right out of college. Gould and EPI researcher Jessica Schieder published a paper on Wednesday explaining why the pay gap has little to do with real choice.

'People were not understanding the full picture,' Gould told The Huffington Post.

It’s true that many women do not pursue higher-paying jobs in engineering or science ― fields that are dominated by men. But that’s not the main reason the pay gap exists. In fact, 68 percent of the gap can be explained by the fact that women make less than men within the same occupations, as Gould and Schieder note.

'Leaving aside the fact that women’s career choices are shaped by gender norms and expectations, the fact is that most of the gender wage gap can be explained by the fact that women, on average, are paid less than men in the same occupation,' Gould said in a statement Wednesday morning.

Female doctors, for example, earn $51,000 less than male doctors on average, a study recently published in JAMA Internal Medicine found."

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