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In high-paying jobs, the wage gap can cost women millions

Julia Carpenter CNN.COM

The compensation models in some high-paying professions may be to blame. Pay that's based on negotiation, client networks and company share payouts means hundreds of thousands of dollars could separate men and women in these top-paying fields, says Ariane Hegewisch, research director at the Institute for Women's Policy Research.

Less bargaining power and fewer connections

Women who don't negotiate at all are at a disadvantage, especially compared to male counterparts who do. But even those who do ask for more often have less negotiating power than men. In some cases, women can even be penalized for bringing up the issue. Because women are rewarded if they appear likeable or stereotypically feminine, studies show employers may balk when a woman asks for a raise or higher salary.

Compensation in high-paying law firms relies heavily on origination, or "books of business," according to the law study. Because many women have less access to these expensive clients, their overall compensation takes a massive hit.

But the problem doesn't end with law firms.

"It's a bigger issue than just the legal industry," says Jeffrey Lowe, global practice leader of Major, Lindsey & Africa's law firm practice and author of the study on law compensation. "It just seems like no matter what industry you look at, you have these kinds of [gender pay gap] issues."

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