Young women who want to beat men to the big bucks should get a one-way ticket to the closest big U.S. city, a New York study showed.

The research, completed by the Department of Sociology at Queens College in New York, showed full-time female employees in their 20s surpassing same-age males in cities like Chicago, Boston, Minneapolis, Dallas and New York.

In Dallas, these women earn 20 percent more than men, while in New York City they earn 17 percent more.

After age 30, women are no longer ahead, said Andrew Beveridge, a Queens College sociology professor who analyzed 2005 census data for the study, which was first published in June. But that may change since there is a definite narrowing of the gap and increase in education for all women in big cities.

Women started to surpass men's salaries in urban centers only in the past seven years. Nationwide, females have consistently trailed males by an average of close to $10,000 annually for 17 years. Before that, the gap was even greater.

Women are faring the best in the Northeast and West, closing the gap in the states of Maryland, District of Columbia and Massachusetts. In contrast, women are farthest behind in Arkansas, Louisiana, and West Virginia, according to the National Committee on Pay Equity.

The study suggested those gains might be based on the fact that women get married later in cities than in rural areas. Women marry the latest in New York, Massachusetts and the District of Columbia.

Also, the density of corporate headquarters is greatest in urban areas, which allows young women more opportunities to scale the corporate ladder.

Many of the leading companies in industries like advertising or finance are in big cities, said Marcia Harris, director of career services at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. These employers are more conscious of affirmative action and diversity and are looking for talented women who can rapidly move up in the ranks.