The pay gap between men and women narrowed considerably during the 1980s and 1990s. By the mid 1990s, women earned more than 75 cents for every dollar of hourly pay earned by men. A decade and a half earlier that gap was a dime per hour greater.

But the gap now seems to be stuck in the 2000s. For women with four-year college degrees, the gap has actually widened slightly between men and women with the same amount of education. For women without a college degree, the pay gap narrowed only slightly, according to the New York Times.

Researchers say part of the reason women are losing ground remains discrimination but also a matter of personal choice. The number of college-educated women who choose to stay home with their children has risen sharply.

Those women would presumably earn higher salaries, helping narrow the pay gap. Some researchers interviewed by the newspaper say the recent pay trends have been overlooked because the overall pay gap continues to narrow. The average hourly pay of all women workers rose to 80.1 percent of men's in 2005, up from 77.3 percent in 2000.

But at the very top of the income ladder, the newspaper says the pay gap is probably the largest. A woman earning more than 95 percent of all other women earned the equivalent of $36 per hour. A man in the same income category earned about 28 percent more.

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