I always get cranky in these threads lol.
But the pay gap starts from when you are fresh out of uni/school.
How are you supposed to catch up if you are behind? Yes, women take maternity leave because generally since the male is paid higher wages from the beginning of their career then it makes financial sense.
It is a fact that there is a gender gap. There are few women in high ranking roles. Are they less qualified? No. They are just women so can leave at any time to have babies so a male is a better choice.
I am not someone who strives to have a big career but it makes me frustrated and cranky that people that do want to do not get the chance.