This research examines whether there is a gap in wages between women and men starting to work in the public sector, and if so-what the reasons are for the gap and how it developed over the past 16 years. The research shows that at the start of the period a significant wage gap existed in favor of men, that this gap decreased over the 16 years covered by the research, and that since 2001, there is no difference in the average wage at the time of starting to work between men and women. The narrowing of the gap reflects the fact that men's real wages at the time of starting to work grew during the 16 years by only five percent, while those of women grew by 27 percent. The wage gap can be attributed to two influences: the difference in human capital, which creates a legitimate gap, and the difference in the return to human capital-which creates an illegitimate gap. The decrease in differences in human capital between men and women to a situation in which women currently enjoy an advantage, has led to a narrowing in the wage gaps between them. This narrowing is a result, among other things, of the accelerating process of academization among women, by virtue of which the proportion of women entering professions whose average salary is relatively higher has grown steadily. No less significant has been the decline in the return to human capital among men relative to women, and this too has led to reducing the wage gap.

A further examination showed that when the research population is "uniform" between the sexes, wage gaps between men and women are even smaller, even though they have grown during the past four years. Furthermore, it was found that on starting to work, men generally received higher grades than women for the same profession. In this area as well, women's relative situation has improved significantly over the years.

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