Across 17 different subject areas, the average earnings of male students who graduated in 2011-12 outstripped those of their female contemporaries.
The results come from an analysis by the Higher Education Careers Services Unit of salary data from students who started university in 2005-06.
Jane Artess, director of research at HECSU, said the study found that despite equal pay having been enshrined in legislation for 40 years, “being female can make a difference to a graduate’s earning power”.
“The gender distribution of graduate earnings is strikingly uneven - more women are at the lower end of the salary range, particularly within the typical starting salary ranges of £15-17,999 and £21-23,999, and men are more likely than women to earn higher salary levels of £24,000 or more,” she writes in the latest editor of Graduate Market Trends.
“Despite having the same Ucas entry tariff points, attending the same type of institution and studying the same subject, men are commanding higher salaries than women,” she says.
Even when the data are broken down between the public and private sector, and by graduate and non-graduate jobs, the male earnings lead persists, she adds.
“Since it would be unlawful for employers to pay males and females doing the same job differently, something else must be happening to female graduate earnings,” she writes, but does not offer any concrete suggestions as to what may explain the gap.