Just a few decades ago, the thought of a woman owning a business or running a large multi-national company might have drawn sneers or snickers in the business world (and might still from those who are less enlightened), but luckily things have by and large changed for the better for women in business. Today, women own about 29% of all businesses in the United States and account for about 16% of all corporate officers in Fortune 500 companies. Yet despite significant gains over the past 50 years, female MBAs and other women who want to make a go of a career in business don’t have an easy task ahead of them when it comes to gaining equality in the workplace.
Even women who graduate from top-tier business schools and who hold prestigious MBA degrees may not make as much or get as far in their careers as their male counterparts. Read on to learn some of the most telling stats about female MBAs that show that equality in the business world still has a long way to go.
Women make up only 29% of full-time MBA students.
Business school, it turns out, is still a man’s world. Women make up less than 30% of full-time students in MBA programs across the nation, though overall women earned 36.8% of MBAs in 2010-2011. Business schools may not be to blame, however, as many report difficulties with drawing in more female students. Some schools are making the grade, however, with pretty high numbers of female students, including some big name schools like Wharton, which boasts an MBA population that’s 45% female.
The number of female MBA students is rising rapidly.
While the current number of women in MBA programs is still low, it’s far above the numbers business schools were seeing just a few years ago. In 2010, the GMAT reported that 40% of its test takers were women, an all-time high that represented more than 100,000 women nationwide taking the first steps toward applying to business school. Back in 1995, just 28% of Harvard Business School’s students were women. By 2010, that number was 38% and is still rising as more women decide to head back to school to gain additional business skills and perhaps more job security.
Women on average make less money than men in their first post-MBA job.
While more women may be going to business school, it’s unclear just how much the educational investment really helps them in the long run. Accounting for experience, time since MBA, industry, and region, a study found that women make $4,600 less in their first post-MBA jobs than their male counterparts. That’s a loss right out of the gate that many won’t make up over time.
- Ten to 15 years later, the earnings difference growth to almost 40%
Forty-six hundred bucks seems like a pittance when compared to the long-term earnings gap between male and female MBAs. Over the next decade, women can expect to make almost 40% less than their male counterparts, a hefty disparity between individuals who were observationally equivalent at graduation. Much of this difference can be attributed to the differing career choices many MBAs make, with women working fewer hours and having more career interruptions due to starting and caring for a family. Yet even when accounting for these differences, the disparity is still there, frustrating many women who put in long hours and still can’t rise to the level of their male counterparts when it comes to pay.
More women start on the post-MBA career ladder in entry-level positions.
Women may be making less than men in those post-MBA positions because they’re not getting jobs that reflect their expertise and education. Overall, 60% of women start out their post-MBA careers in entry-level positions. For men, that number is only 46%, a significant difference. Whether this difference is caused by simple demographic issues like age and experience or by something more nefarious like sexism is not yet clear, but does demonstrate a distinct difference in the career paths of men and women MBAs after school.
Female MBAs are less likely to receive promotions than men.
Though not by much. A survey of MBA students that graduated between 1996 and 2007 found that among the surveyed group, 31% of women had received promotions while a marginally larger number of men, 36%, had gotten similar promotions. This small difference is a promising stat among many others that are considerably more troubling.
Women MBAs are more likely to be laid off.
The same survey also revealed an interesting stat in light of the current economic downturn: women senior leaders are more than three times as likely to lose a job due to downsizing or closure (19% for women vs. 6% for men). This statistic is especially interesting because, overall, 75% of those laid off in the U.S. over the past few years have been men. Researchers behind the study believe the disparity is due to women’s mentors being less senior than that of men, which can be a disadvantage when it comes time for layoffs to be made.
Even though female MBA graduates submitted 20% more job applications than male graduates in 2010, they received half the job offers.
When it comes to hiring women for leadership positions in business, some companies simply may not see women as up to the job. Female MBAs were hired at half the rate of men in 2010, even though they sought out more positions than their male counterparts. And as we discussed previously, more of the positions offered to women MBAs will be lower-paying, lower-status jobs than men with equivalent degrees and experience.
Salary increases for men and women with MBAs are comparable.
When it comes to making more cash after graduation, women and men see comparable rises in average salaries. Female MBAs earn 51% more than their pre-degree salary, while men experience a 54% increase, which may be part of what makes getting an MBA so worthwhile for women, even if they earn less overall than men in the same positions.
Even at the CEO level, women’s salaries are consistently lower than men’s.
Think once you make it to the top you’ll be bringing in a salary that’s comparable to men in the business? Think again. Among CEOs, women make just over 72% of what male counterparts earn in weekly salary, according to data from The Institute for Women’s Policy Research. Sadly, things aren’t much different in other countries. In the UK, female executives can expect to make 10% less than men; in Germany, a whopping 22% less. The only countries where women make more than men as CEOs? Russia and Bulgaria.
Only 24% of MBA programs offer any type of special outreach to women.
More women may be applying to and attending MBA programs, but not because of any special treatment from business schools. Few schools have made an effort to recruit women. Women are often the minority when it comes to faculty as well, with fewer than 33% of business professors being female (compared to 37% overall).
The vast majority of women would recommend an MBA program to someone else.
Despite all of the hurdles that face women in business school and beyond, most women don’t have any regrets when it comes to getting their MBAs. Of grads from 2000 to 2010 who were surveyed about their experience, a whopping 96% said they wouldn’t hesitate to recommend business school to someone else. That’s a strong endorsement and one that may keep pushing up the numbers of women in business schools around the world.
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