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Sheryl Sandberg, chief operating officer of Facebook Inc., reacts during a news conference at Station F, a mega-campus for startups located inside a former freight railway depot, in Paris, France, on Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2017.
Christophe Morin/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Sheryl Sandberg, the COO of Facebook and founder of LeanIn.Org, a nonprofit that supports working women, described the pay gap that exists between working men and women as “just plain wrong” in a powerful op-ed for USA Today.

The article, which was published on Equal Pay Day Tuesday, outlines the fact that, on average, women were paid 80 cents for every dollar a man made in 2016. “If you break the pay gap down by race and ethnicity, it’s even worse: black women were paid 63 cents; Latinas, 54 cents for every dollar white men made,” Sandberg writes.

In Sandberg’s opinion, this pay gap is holding women back from achieving equality. But, she argues, this gap does not exist because of the “misconception” that “women aren’t educated enough or ambitious enough or hardworking enough.” Instead, the gap is due to “structural barriers” including “occupation and industry differences.”

Sandberg, who today launched #20PercentCounts, a LeanIn campaign that highlights the unfairness of the gender pay gap, believes we need to work together to solve the problem. She suggests that raising the minimum wage and businesses conducting pay audits by gender and race could both help make society more equal. “All of us — men, women, employers, employees, colleagues — can step up and become stronger allies for women,” she adds.

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Write to Kate Samuelson at

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