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Gender wage gap highlighted at Oscars: What the numbers show

During Sunday night's Academy Awards, best supporting actress winner Patricia Arquette took the opportunity of her victory speech to raise awareness about gender inequality.

"It is our time to have wage equality once and for all and equal rights for women in the United States of America," she said.

Arquette has a point. According to the Census Bureau, for every dollar a man makes, a woman earns just 78 cents for doing the same job.

Advocates for closing the gender wage gap say the divide is affecting the American economy. CBS News

For most of her career, financial planner Maura Griffin said she was paid less than men who were doing the same job. So she launched her own firm to help women close that gap.

"I was motivated to start my own company because I knew I wanted to set my own parameters for my own wage," she said.

And it has worked.

Among full-time workers, women earn 18 percent less a week than men. Female CEOs make 20 percent less.

In the legal profession, women make 43 percent less than their male counterparts.

Hollywood is pointing out that divide, where women in arts and entertainment are making 21 percent less. It's an uneven playing field from the start.

Equal Pay Act: 50 years later and women still earn less 06:01

A year after graduation, men are already earning 7 percent more than women, according to a study by the American Association of University Women. And once the salary is set, that gap widens over time.

"What we've found is that women are not getting paid equally for equal work with equal experience," said Anna Beninger, director of research at Catalyst, a nonprofit that promotes more opportunities for women.

"When you think about the impact that a gender wage gap has on someone's lifetime earnings, " said Beninger. "With women being 4 out of 10 breadwinners these days, it's having a huge impact beyond just the women themselves. It's impacting our families and it's impacting our economy."

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