Female MBAs Have Worse First Jobs, Suffer Repercussions Later

Last Updated Mar 9, 2010 12:45 AM EST

The Wall Street Journal reported recently on a new study finding that female MBAs lag significantly behind their male counterparts when it comes to pay and promotions.

The study, conducted by Catalyst, a nonprofit for women in the workplace, looked at 9,000 MBAs who graduated between 1996 and 2007. While 46 percent of the male respondents' first job was an entry-level position, 60 percent of the women were hired at the entry level. Women also earned $4,600 less at their first job -- even when they had the same amount of previous professional experience.

The WSJ quoted Columbia Business School professor Ann Bartel, who said "companies anticipate female employees will have children and do not include them in succession planning." Alternately, Bartel said, the women themselves anticipate the time commitment of having a family, and therefore don't lobby hard enough for the best positions.
Another recent study, spearheaded by the aforementioned Bartel, suggested that these disparities plague women throughout their entire careers. Columbia Business School and the Women's Executive Circle of New York looked at women's roles in the largest 100 public companies headquartered in New York and found that in 2008, women were in C-level positions in less than 11 percent of the companies.

While this number suggests that women have a long way to go to reach workplace equality, other factors in the survey suggest that women are slowly making strides. The number of women in directorship positions increased 1.4 percent since 2006, to 17 percent. Also, specific industries boast larger percentages of female leaders. For example, 17.3 percent of executives in banking and finance are women, as are 17.4 percent in chemical and pharmaceutical companies.

What will it take to get more women into business' upper echelon? As Bartel told the WSJ, "I think companies want equality, but they will have to redesign jobs so flex-time and working from home aren't negatives for the fast track. I don't think we've had that cultural revolution yet."

Image courtesy of Flickr user Pikturewerk, CC 2.0.

  • Stacy Blackman

    Stacy Sukov Blackman is president of Stacy Blackman Consulting, where she consults on MBA admissions. She earned her MBA from the Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University and her Bachelor of Science from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. Stacy serves on the Board of Directors of AIGAC, the Association of International Graduate Admissions Consultants, and has published a guide to MBA Admissions, The MBA Application Roadmap.