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Will Boston succeed in closing the gender wage gap?

NBC News' Maria Shriver presented her report on Women and America to President Obama Tuesday.

By Mary Kozelka, NBC News

Boston is brimming with educated women -- and mayoral advisor Katharine Lusk is determined to help them earn more money at work.

“Women in Boston make up more than half the population and half the workforce … They are central to families. They are central to the communities. They're central to business,” Lusk told NBC News’ Maria Shriver.

Right now, however, women in the U.S. earn 77 cents for every dollar men make -- in Boston, it's slightly higher: 83 cents.

When former mayor Thomas Menino declared 2013 the Year of the Woman, he pledged to close the gender wage gap in Boston, and tapped  Lusk to write a compact addressing the complications women face in the workplace with suggested solutions.

So far, 50 companies have joined the initiative and they have agreed to share their findings with the city after two years.

Lusk found that women are a resource in the workplace that remains relatively underutilized. The conventions in place at many companies make it difficult, if not impossible, for a woman to start a career and grow to her full potential, she said. According to the compact, roadblocks such as inflexible work hours, lack of female role models -- and perhaps the most pervasive obstruction --unconscious bias, make it difficult to grow and remain in the workplace as a female employee.

NBC's Maria Shriver spoke with Boston Mayoral Advisor Katharine Lusk about the effort to make her city the first in America to pay men and women equally.   

Putnam Investments was one of the first companies to sign on to the compact and their President and CEO Bob Reynolds notes that in the business world, corporations can’t afford to lose out on talent, regardless of gender.

“When you run a global business you need to compete with the best talent and to attract and keep the best talent,” said Reynolds.  And especially in Boston, that means hiring and retaining women.

Will Boston’s efforts close the wage gap for good? Lusk is guardedly optimistic.

"We don't think there's a quick fix.  We don't think there's an easy answer.  But we do know that we're gonna learn a lot in the next few years."

For more on pay equity, please visit the Fight for Fair Pay website