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New figures show the gender pay gap between female and male university graduates more than doubled last year, increasing from $2000 to $5000 per annum.
The 2012 GradStats report by Graduate Careers Australia shows median full-time employment starting salaries for male graduates are $55,000 (up from $52,000 in 2011), compared to $50,000 for women (no change from 2011). The current graduate gender pay gap across all occupations is 9.1%.
The figures will shock many recent school leavers as they contemplate their futures while awaiting university offers in coming weeks.
Dr Carla Harris, Research Executive Manager at the Workplace Gender Equality Agency said 'It is very disturbing that men's starting salaries have increased over the past year but those of women have not, especially given that women make up the majority of university graduates.
"The lesson here is that the gender pay gap continues to have a very real impact on the bank balance of young women starting their careers."
The gender pay gap for graduates was most pronounced in the following occupational areas: architecture and building (17.3%, $9,000 difference), dentistry (15.7%, $14,400 difference), optometry (8.5%, $7,000 difference) and law (7.8%, $4,300 difference).
"I'm certain that any female school leaver contemplating a career in dentistry, would be outraged knowing she can expect to earn more than $14,000 less than a man in her first year on the job," Dr Harris said.
However, out of 23 occupations, there are seven where female graduates earn slightly more than men. Female computer scientists, earth scientists, pharmacists and engineers are amongst those who earn slightly more than their male counterparts.
Only three occupational categories had no gender pay gap in starting salaries. They were education, humanities and medicine.