CHARLOTTE — Speaking on behalf of the Independent Women's Forum, Shelby-native Hadley Heath Manning says the concept of equal pay in the workplace is a misnomer.

“That is just a comparison of averages and the disparity can be explained by a lot of other factors besides workplace discrimination," she said.

President Barack Obama fielded two questions on the subject during Wednesday's Town Hall meeting in Charlotte, the day after Equal Pay Day.

For many, the day symbolizes how far into the year women must work to earn what men earned in the previous year.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, for full-time workers, women earn 78 cents to a man's dollar.

"It doesn't take into account, for example, different choices men and women might make when it comes to what industry they might want to work in, what job level they're working in," said Manning.

Wells Fargo Senior Economist Mark Vitner believes the ‘78-cents on the dollar’ statistic is also a bit misleading.

"I do think there's been more progress on that front than a lot of people realize and a lot of it is generational," said Vitner.

Manning says the choice to have children is the largest factor driving the gender wage gap, not employers or lawmakers.

"It's not necessarily something that's going to allow you to maximize your career or maximize your earnings, but it is something for many women that allows them to maximize their happiness," said Manning.