Department of Family and Community Services
A woman working on some technical equipment.

5.2 The graduate salary gap

share on Facebook share on Twitter share on Yammershare by email

Median starting salaries for young graduates

Current position

In 2012, the median starting salary for women aged less than 25 with a Bachelor’s degree in their first full-time job was $50,000 per year. The median earnings of their male counterparts was $55,000.

Gender gap

  • The graduate salary gap between NSW men and women is around 9.1 percent or $5,000 per year.
The direction of change over time

Whilst the average starting salary for graduate women has grown consistently over the past 10 years, with the exception of last year, the salary received by graduate men has fluctuated (see Figure 3.15). As a result the size of the graduate salary gap has varied.

The average gap for 2003 to 2012 was 5.7 percent. The gap was widest at 10.0 percent in 2008, before falling to 4.0 percent in 2010 and rising since then.

In 2012, for the first time in the past decade, the starting salary of women was the same as the previous year, increasing the graduate salary gap by 1.8 percentage points or $1,000.


The mining boom has created significant growth in the male-dominated disciplines of engineering and earth sciences. Engineering and earth sciences were amongst the highest paying jobs for graduates in 2012. In the past decade they have experienced significant growth in salary.

Figure 3.15 shows the gender salary gap in a selection of disciplines, including three (computer science, humanities and education) where women graduates earn more than men. The gap is largest in men’s favour in architecture and building. It should be noted that there is a significant under-representation of women in the more lucrative building professions.

Year collected: 2011 and previous years.
Data source: Graduate Careers Australia, Australian Graduate Survey, 2011, unpublished data. More information is available at and

Figure 3.15 Median starting salaries after graduation, under 25, NSW, 2003 to 2012

Fig 3.15

Population: Bachelor’s degree graduates under 25 working in their first full-time job.
Source: Graduate Careers Australia, Australian Graduate Survey, 2012.