A long-running liberal mantra is that women are paid significantly less than men for doing the same work, but a closer look at the data proves that position false.

The Institute for Women’s Policy Research claims the current gap is 20 percent between men’s and women’s pay. In other words, a woman earns 80 cents for every dollar a man earns.

The organization argues this is clear evidence of discrimination against women in the workplace. However, Hadley Heath Manning, policy director with the Independent Women’s Forum, says the 20 percent comparison is not “apples-to-apples.”

“The raw wage gap, measured by the Department of Labor, is about 20 cents on the dollar,” Manning told Western Journalism. “But this is just a comparison of averages. It doesn’t take into account many factors that affect earnings, like profession, education, experience and hours. This means that the raw wage gap doesn’t really measure ‘equal pay for equal work’ because it’s not an apples-to-apples comparison.”

She added, “Sadly, the raw wage gap is often presented without context, suggesting there is widespread discrimination against women. But this isn’t so. This sends the wrong message to women and girls. Even the Department of Labor has said that the raw wage gap is largely the result of the individual choices women and men make, and shouldn’t be used to justify further legislative action.”

Economist Steven Horwitz, with the Foundation for Economic Freedom, agrees with Manning’s assessment.

“That 80 percent is an aggregate, he writes. “Thus, the claim that women get paid 80 percent of what men do for the same work is a myth.”

That said, he explains, there still is a 3-to-5 percent difference between the sexes when all other factors are held constant, which may be due to in part to discrimination or gender socialization.

However, even that picture is changing among millennial women.

“Since 2000, one-third more women than men have graduated from college, and more women are earning graduate degrees too,” reports Fast Company, using data from a Pew Research study. “Even once-male bastions such as law school are seeing the change.”

“Millennial women are so outpacing men in higher education that it’s inevitable they will become their generation’s top earners,” the article goes on to say. “With greater education comes greater wealth. At this rate, young women’s wages will overtake men’s by 2020.”

A gap still exists among women seeking to be the boss in their workplaces, even among millennials, with 70 percent of men and 61 percent of women saying they want to be in charge.

Another major factor explaining why women tend to earn less than men over the course of their careers is the family choices they make.

According to Pew, 39 percent of women of all ages reported taking a significant amount of time off work to care for a child or family member. Only 24 percent of men gave the same response.

Another interesting statistic shows that while women tend to view the job market broadly as favoring men, large majorities of both men (73 percent) and women (75 percent) report that at their particular workplaces each gender earns the same pay for the same job.

“We should use better metrics,” Manning contends when discussing wage differences between men and woman. “When we do correct for a variety of variables, like profession, education, experience and hours, the wage gap virtually disappears. This means women can and should expect equal pay for equal work. In fact, anything less is already illegal.”