Women graduates expect to earn almost £4,000 less than men in their first job, a survey has found.
The expected pay gap rises to almost £12,000 when men and women were asked about their anticipated earnings five years into their careers.
The findings show that gender pay gap expectations are ingrained in young women entering the workforce, the organisation Bright Network said.
While females had an expected starting salary of £25,900, males felt they were likely to earn £29,700 in their first job after graduating.
The discrepancy was expected to continue further into their working lives, with women expecting to earn £42,400 five years into their jobs, but men expecting £54,200.
While only 1% of women named their gender as the biggest barrier to pursuing any career path they wish, the survey found that just half of women were confident about securing a graduate role, compared to 71% of men who were asked the same question.
The What Do Graduates Want? report surveyed 5,058 university students.
It found that, overall, fewer than 5% of respondents thought salary was more important than work-life balance.
James Uffindell, the founder of the Bright Network, an organisation which aims to connect young people from all backgrounds with the world’s leading employers, said employers need to be aware of and address the variation in expectations across the genders.
He said: “Salary is no longer the leading priority for graduates, with most wanting flexibility, wellbeing and a balanced work-life ratio.
“Priorities may be changing; however, we cannot ignore that this report highlights a stark gender gap in salary expectations – an issue we have seen come up year after year.
“I think this is a drip-down effect of the wider pay gap difference that exists today, altering not only expectations but hope for the younger female generation.
“I want to emphasise the importance for employers to become more aware of this as both men and women progress in their careers to make sure such a gap is narrowed from the start.
“It will take time but addressing the foundation of this issue will have a positive knock-on effect for the future.”
A Government spokeswoman said: “We want everyone with the talent and potential, no matter their gender or background, to thrive in higher education and go on to successful careers.
“While the gender pay gap overall is at a record low, there is clearly much further to go, and we want to see employers setting out clear action plans that will tackle their individual gaps.”