10/18/2012 10:49 am ET

Why Are Women Paid Less Than Men?

At last night's presidential debate, audience member Katherine Fenton got up and asked how the candidates planned to fix the fact that women make "only 72 percent of what their male counterparts earn." It's a familiar stat that, as some conservatives argued today, is also a bit misleading. When you compare men and women who work similar hours in similar jobs, the gap shrinks significantly.

But it doesn't disappear. To get a sense of why women today are still paid less than men, and how much of the difference we can actually blame on discrimination, I spoke with Francine Blau, an award winning labor economist at Cornell who has published widely on gender and the workplace. Our conversation has been edited for length and clarity.

Read more on The Atlantic