The gender pay gap is an enduring fact of American life. Many say that's due to the enduring responsibilities of motherhood, which lead to women taking more time off than men to care for the kids. But according to a new report from the American Association of University Women, just a year out of college, the average woman already makes $7,600 less a year than her average male peer. Among graduates from private universities, the difference swells to a staggering $12,600.
One young woman, Katherine Fenton, directly asked Barack Obama and Mitt Romney during the second debate about what their plans were to fix the pay gap. The liberal wings of the internet quickly seized on Romney's response about "binders full of women," while the conservative wings went straight for Fenton herself, publicizing jokes about sex and drinking she wrote on her Twitter account and dubbing her a "party girl" who "hates cops." It seems the pay gap remains enough of a controversial topic that a woman who dared to ask the candidates about it gets served a good helping of harassment.
The AAUW report finds that most of the wage difference between men and women isn't to do with the "gender wage gap" in the technical sense: the difference in earnings between a man and a woman working the exact same job for the exact same hours. But even a freshly graduated woman with an identical life, major and job to a man will earn a few thousand dollars less, either because she failed to negotiate as toughly, or because discrimination robbed her of fair pay.
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