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The fourth paragraph fulfills which of the following functions in the passage?

Incorrect.

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The fourth paragraph provides the reasoning for the results (the reasons behind this enduring disparity..), discussed in the third paragraph, of the research described in the second paragraph. It does not explain the reason for the motherhood penalty itself, only why it has not decreased over time.

Very good!

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The fourth paragraph describes the researchers' explanation for the research results described in the third paragraph, but does not say that this explanation is the only one.

Incorrect.

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The fourth paragraph attempts to explain why the motherhood penalty has not decreased over time, but does not offer any solutions to this problem.

Incorrect.

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This answer choice correctly describes the function of the third, not fourth, paragraph.

Incorrect.

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The research conducted by Avellar and Smock on the motherhood penalty is described in the third, not second, paragraph. Furthermore, Interpreting the results of the research means attempting to explain what the results mean, which the fourth paragraph does not do.

It describes the results of the research on a topic introduced in the first paragraph.
It explains the reasoning behind a phenomenon defined in the first paragraph.
It offers a possible solution to a problem described in the rest of the passage.
It interprets the results of the research described in the second paragraph.
It presents a possible explanation for the information presented in the third paragraph.