The salaries that female entrepreneurs pay themselves is 80% that of their male counterparts, according to a new study.

The Goldman Sachs report surveyed nearly 1,300 small business owners graduating from their ‘10,000 Small Businesses’ study programme.

The gap was seen as unexpectedly large. Patricia Greene, author of the study, told the New York Times:

“I’m not sure if it’s benchmarking against salaried women, I’m not sure if it’s a lack of confidence, I’m not sure if it’s negotiating themselves down first. Sometimes women have a tendency to say: ‘I couldn’t possibly ask that. I’d better recalibrate that before I put that number out there.”

One other explanation offered was that females tended to start businesses in sectors generally offered lower average revenues.

Although females paid themselves less when entering the programme, they gave themselves higher pay rises than men upon graduation, reducing the salary gap by 60%.

Ariane Hegewisch, a study director at the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, attributed this to women being more risk averse than men, suggesting that women might be more prone to “keeping more money in the business until they are certain it will work out.”