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LETTER: Gender pay gap can't be explained away

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In his recent letter, Jim Nostdahl claimed the gender pay gap is, according to research, simply a result of "women's choices" ("Don't blame discrimination for 'pay gap'," Page A4, Sept. 9).

Fact check. Men's and women's choices—particularly the opportunity to attend college, choice of college major and type of job pursued after graduation—do affect pay differences. But additional research clarifies that other factors also are at work.

For example, the American Association of University Women's 2012 analysis—"Graduating to a pay gap: The earnings of women and men one year after college graduation"—disclosed that just one year after college graduation, women were paid only 82 percent of what their similarly educated and experienced male counterparts were paid.

After accounting for college major, occupation, economic sector, hours worked, months unemployed since graduation, GPA, type of undergraduate institution, institution selectivity, age, geographical region and marital status, AAUW's research clarifies that the resulting pay gap can't be "explained away."

The association's report found that a 7 percent difference in the earnings of male and female college graduates one year after graduation was still unexplained.

Further, "Behind the pay gap"—another AAUW report, this one from 2007—found a 12 percent unexplained difference in earnings among full-time workers 10 years after college graduation.

Facts are important, and research is on the side of families. North Dakota families need the Paycheck Fairness Act passed in Congress.

It would be helpful for Nostdahl to review the full range of research available to him. He will learn the role that discrimination plays in the pay gap and how it has affected his own family's earnings.

Connie Hildebrand