By Annie Lowrey

Do women earn 80 cents on the dollar compared with men, as is commonly cited? Or is the pay gap just pennies, as one recent survey found? Or do women earn a shocking 49 cents on the dollar, as calculated by the social scientists Stephen Rose and Heidi Hartmann in a new analysis published by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research?

The answer is all of the above. Each number highlights a different aspect of a complicated and nuanced situation—one reflecting not only sexism and bias but the choices made more or less freely by millions of women in hundreds of thousands of workplaces. Rose and Hartmann’s number is lowest because it is in some ways most holistic.

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