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The author most likely mentions some studies in order to
The author thinks that the alternative view presented by some studies is notable, although he or she does not state that he subscribes to one view or the other. The only reason to quote the minority view of some studies is that the author most likely believes the figure to be somewhere between the two figures quoted in the passage.
We are not told that any of the studies referred to in the third sentence of the first paragraph were conducted by Professors Avellar and Smock. Moreover, the research of Professors Avellar and Smock revolves around the motherhood penalty over time, not the precise amount of income working mothers are penalized.
Although the two studies quoted in the passage give different numerical figures, this does not mean that they attribute the cause of the motherhood penalty to anything but having children.
Although this answer choice is in the right direction, it is not the best answer choice. The author quotes two different groups of studies in the passage, but we are not given any indication that he or she thinks that the majority of the studies are invalid, or that one is more valid than the other.
Although it is logical to presume that the author is critical of the motherhood penalty, this is not the reason he or she includes this detail in the passage. The author includes this detail to amend the figures provided by most studies.
compare the research of Professors Avellar and Smock to the majority of research on the motherhood penalty
show that only part of the motherhood penalty is the result of having children
cast doubt on the validity of the majority of studies conducted on the motherhood penalty
express the author's critical opinion of the motherhood penalty