The aim of this paper is to examine whether there is a gender gap in monthly wage among recent graduates in eleven European countries and which variables can explain it. In the first part of the paper previous literature is presented and some limitations of existing studies are discussed. In the theoretical framework the gender wage gap is conceived as a function of five main factors: human capital, employment characteristics, working hours, work-family conciliation aspects and residual discrimination. Different types of decomposition after OLS linear regression and Heckman selection models are applied; data comes from REFLEX survey on tertiary graduates in 2000. The main results indicate that the raw gender gap is higher in Austria and Germany, while it is lower in Belgium and United Kingdom, with Southern and Nordic countries placed in the middle. There is great variability in the unexplained part of the gender gap, which is mainly imputable to residual discrimination. This is low in Nordic countries, followed by Continental and Southern Europe. Overall the most important factors accounting for the gender gap are employment characteristics, followed by working hours. Human capital, work-family conciliation issues and individuals’ preferences matter in most countries, but their role is not prominent. There is also evidence of a correlation between several macro-institutional indicators (type of wage-setting institutions and welfare policies) and the extent of the gender gap, suggesting that wage determination is deeply rooted into institutional contexts.