Women in the U.S. with newly-minted bachelor’s degrees earn an average of US$52,266, compared to $64,022 earned by their male peers, according to a new study by the National Association of Colleges and Employers.

The gender pay gap at the beginning of women’s careers mirrors the overall pay gap nationally, with the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics finding women earn about 82 per cent of their male counterparts’ earnings. “Our study dispels the myth that the gender pay gap results from women prioritizing family over career and thus begins later,” said Shawn VanDeirzel, executive director of the NACE, in a press release. “We’re seeing the disparity right at the beginning of a woman’s career.”

Read: More work to be done on workplace gender equality: survey

The study also dispelled the “myth that differences in academic majors explain the pay gap.” Considering academic majors in isolation accounts for some, but not all, of the difference in starting pay for men and women exiting university and entering the workforce, noted the press release.

“One has to consider whether women choose lower-paying majors or whether certain majors are lower paying because women dominate,” said VanDeirzel. “There is a compelling case that gender discrimination underlies the gap.”

He suggested employers can take steps toward pay equity for all employees. “First, standardize pay and eliminate the discretion to set salaries for new hires. And second, conduct an annual pay equity analysis to determine if there are salary differentials correlated to gender or race/ethnicity and, if so, take immediate action where needed.”

Read: Women in Canada’s benefits, pension industries discuss gender equity, reversing pandemic-fueled ‘she-cession’