Corporate Women: The Wage Gap Starts At Graduation


Thinking about getting an M.B.A.? While advanced degrees are often touted as the way to improve salary and access to top jobs, researchers have discovered that simply being male translates to more money and opportunity.

The research was released on Thursday by Catalyst, a leading nonprofit focusing on improving gender diversity in the workplace. The Wall Street Journal summarizes the key findings of the study:

The study, which had more than 9,000 respondents who graduated from 26 M.B.A. programs between 1996 and 2007, found that starting from the first job post-M.B.A. women lagged behind male respondents. For example, 60% of women respondents reported that their first job was at an entry level position, as opposed to 46% of male respondents.
Women also earned an average $4,600 less than men in their first job, even if they had the same amount of previous work experience, the study found.

The researchers over at Catalyst know their subject matter in and out – within the report is a rebuttal to common assertions when this type of data surfaces.

*It’s not a matter of different aspirations. The findings hold even when considering only men and women who aspired to CEO/ senior executive level.
*It’s not a matter of parenthood. The findings hold even when considering only men and women who did not have children.
*Even after taking into account the starting level of their first post-MBA job, first post-MBA job salary, job level at the time of the survey, number of years of experience, time since MBA, and industry and global region where they worked at the time of survey, men’s salary growth outpaced women’s.

Terming the problem “a wake up call,” the authors of the study ultimately conclude the the pipeline for women to go from college to the top levels of an organization is ultimately flawed.

Luckily for corporations interested in increasing the number of women in high ranking positions, the report is peppered with commentary from men and women currently in the executive suite. The executives recommend examining assumptions about “paying dues” as it relates to women, asking management to evaluate employees that are not naturally inclined to self-promotion, working closely with management to ensure employees are advancing, creating more development programs for aspiring executives and working closely with business schools to help coach applicants on the ways of the work world.

Women M.B.A.s Continue to Lag in Pay, Promotions [WSJ]
Pipeline’s Broken Promise [Catalyst]

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