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One function of the second paragraph is to
The second paragraph presents the researchers' expectations of the results of the research discussed in the third paragraph, which portray just one possible outcome of this research.
Although the second paragraph does present a viewpoint, that of Professor Avellar and Smock, that viewpoint is the only one expressed in the passage. The first paragraph describes the motherhood penalty, which is taken as a fact, not a certain viewpoint. The second paragraph provides the viewpoint that it should have decreased over time.
The second paragraph describes the researchers' predictions, which happened not to match the results of their research. However, this does not mean that they argued against the results.
Moreover, it is unlikely that the second paragraph's function would be to argue against results not yet revealed in the passage (as we do not learn about those results until the following paragraph).
Our Initial Reading reveals that the researchers' prediction was not corroborated, or confirmed, in the third paragraph, but rather the opposite.
Although it would be logical for Professor Avellar and Smock to be critical of the motherhood penalty, we never learn what their opinions are regarding this phenomenon from the passage.