New research shows that female graduates in Ireland expect to earn up to 14% less than their male counterparts a year.
The latest global talent market research by Irishjobs.ie, in partnership with employer brand specialist Universum, reveals a significant difference in the annual salary expectations of male and female graduates.
This is especially stark in the fields of law (12%), business (10.5%), and engineering (6%).
The research was conducted among 11,769 students across the areas of business, IT, health, engineering and law.
Irishjobs.ie suggests the pay gap between men and women is widening rather than shrinking.
It said that compared to last year's findings, the research shows a 4% increase in the largest salary expectation gap between men and women - 14% compared to 10% in 2019.
This is despite the significant progress being made by many Irish firms and global multinationals to close the gap by introducing career development and leadership programmes for women and flexible working options to ensure equality and allow for more female representation at senior leadership level.
Irishjob.ie said that graduates in IT have the highest starting salary expectations among those surveyed, considering €37,579 to be an appropriate starting salary, a 4% increase on 2019 figures.
Male IT graduates expect 14% or €5,008 more than female IT graduates per year. Male graduates consider €39,409 an appropriate starting salary, while female graduates expect €34,401 per year on average.
The survey also shows that law graduates also have significantly differing salary expectations. Female graduates expect up to 12% (€5,037) less pay per year (€36,302) than their male counterparts, who expect €41,339 per year.
A significant gap is evident among business graduates too, with male graduates expecting up to 10.5% (€3,804) higher salaries than their female counterparts, with each gender looking for €36,017 and €32,213 per year respectively.
Orla Moran, General Manager at IrishJobs.ie, said that despite the increased level of scrutiny on gender pay disparity, it is concerning to see that not only does a gap remain, it is widening instead of shrinking.
"Our 2020 Universum research implies that gender pay disparity starts before graduates even enter the working world, with male graduates immediately expecting a stronger starting salary of between 6% and 14% more than their female peers," Orla Moran said.
She said that ahead of the introduction of the Gender Pay Gap Information Bill later this year, small actions by individual companies now are a good first step to ensuring that the gender pay gap shrinks rather than grows, and that graduates and future leaders feel empowered to reach their full potential, regardless of gender.
Education institutions could also consider how they can support female students so they start their careers with similar salary expectations to their male counterparts, she added.