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Feb. 5 (Bloomberg) — When General Motors announced in December that Mary Barra would become its first female chief executive officer, few people expected anything other than good publicity for the company. Yet shortly after President Obama recognized the milestone during his State of the Union address last week, the positive press turned sour: within days, outlets spanning the political spectrum from Think Progress to Fox Business were questioning the apparent discrepancy between Barra’s pay ($4.4 million) and that of her male predecessor, Dan Akerson ($9 million).

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