New figures show the pay gap between Australian female university graduates and their male colleagues more than doubled last year.

A report by the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA) says female graduates are losing the battle for pay equality, with the gap now reaching $5,000, up from $2,000 for the previous year.

The agency's 2012 GradStats report shows men's starting salaries increased over the past year to $55,000 while women's salaries stalled at $50,000.

The gap is highest in architecture and building, with $52,000 compared to $43,000, followed by dentistry, optometry and law.

WGEA research executive manager Carla Harris says it is disturbing that women's salaries have stalled in the past year, especially since the majority of university graduates are women.

"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," she said.

"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."

Only seven occupations have women earning more than men, including pharmacy, Earth sciences and computer sciences.

Pharmacy leads the male inequality, with women earning $39,700, or 10.3 per cent more than men.

The report shows men and women earn the same in only three occupations - education, humanities and medicine.

Dr Harris says the lack of salary transparency may make it difficult for a woman to judge whether she is being underpaid for the same work as men.

"The thing is, it is very difficult to find out what salaries are. There is such a lack of transparency around what people earn," she said.

"You almost never know, but she certainly has the right to know and if she finds that she's not earning the same, she needs to go and ask why not."

Dr Harris says it is still the case that employers may be discriminating because they believe young women will only work a few years before starting a family.

"I think that that is certainly something which does go into people's minds and that's frankly, that's discrimination, and we need to be looking at how we are structuring our work practices to cope with the fact that women do need to take time off to have children. Frankly, it takes two to tango," she said.

"We've never seen an immaculate conception and I don't think that it is something that should become a woman's issue.

"It's actually a family issue and it is something that needs to be addressed in a more holistic sense I would argue."


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