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What Obama said about Women (January 29, 2014)

By Jeanne Sahadi
CNN Money

Here's what he said and a brief look behind the assertions he made:

Pay: "[Women] still make 77 cents for every dollar a man earns. That is wrong, and in 2014, it's an embarrassment. A woman deserves equal pay for equal work."

Hard to argue with that, but the 77-cents statistic does not convey the point.

All it tells us is how the median annual earnings of full-time, year-round female workers compare with that of full-time, year-round male workers.

It doesn't speak to any of the factors that determine one's pay, such as the type of job chosen, education, experience, tenure, or hours worked. Nor does it reflect the host of less tangible factors that play a role, such as job performance.

Controlling for those factors would shrink the pay gap considerably in many jobs and in some cases all but erase it.

Does that mean there's no gender discrimination in pay? No. But teasing out just how much exists is very hard. Assessments will differ depending on what methodologies are used and what specifically is being compared. The Institute for Women's Policy Research, for instance, estimates that somewhere between a quarter to a third of the 77-cents pay gap may be attributable to discrimination.

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