It isn't exactly a secret that there's a pay gap between male and female workers. But a new report may shed some light on how this gap is formed.

The National Bureau of Economic Research claims that women can trace the pay disparity back to the first salary negotiation with a new employer. According to the Bureau's report, women are less likely than men to negotiate their starting pay rate.

The findings are based on a study from Monash University in Australia, which observed the behaviors of 2,500 applicants for an administrative assistant position across nine different U.S. cities. Specifically, the university studied how male and female applicants handled initial job postings and interviews, reported The Atlantic.

The study found that women were generally unwilling to negotiate a starting salary unless the employer explicitly invited them to do so, while men were more likely to negotiate their pay rate--even when the employer simply stated the starting wage.

Women were only willing to negotiate when the employer specifically indicated: "The position pays $17.60 per hour. But the applicant can negotiate a higher wage," and "The position pays $17.60 per hour/ negotiable."

The outlet reported that women were also more likely to discuss their pay rate over email than they were in interpersonal settings like interviews.

But as The Atlantic pointed out, the study only reflected a woman’s willingness to negotiate her starting salary. Negotiations for higher raises, along with leadership skills, could very well develop as women spend more time at a given company.