Women MBAs Earn Less (Why am I Not Surprised?)

I didn't remember that the Equal Pay Act was signed by President Kennedy in 1963. I was reminded while creating a speech for Women's History Month. My...how far we haven't come.

In yet another report on unequal pay (thank you Lilly Ledbetter for putting teeth into the Act), The Economist is reporting on a study on the earnings of men and women MBAs. From the National Bureau of Economic Research:
"The authors tracked the earnings of 1,600 MBAs who graduated from the University of Chicago’s Graduate School of Business between 1990 and 2006; they attribute the differences to choice of subjects (women took fewer finance courses), that women’s careers were subject to more interruptions, and that the women worked fewer hours than the men.

The main underlying reason for the second and third of these explanations is that once women MBAs had children, many cut back on hours, or dropped out—13% of the women in the study were not working at all ten years after graduating, while the corresponding figure for men was a mere 1%. The researchers stress that active discrimination is unlikely to have played much of a role in the pay gap—but the continued influence of gender roles in determining career paths is clear." (e.a.)

I beg to differ...women, weigh in: is thinking that the belief that "women take care and men take charge" counts as "active discrimination"? Do you think active discrimination still impacts career advancement?...wages?
Lead ON!
Susan Colantuono is CEO of Leading Women. She blogs on networking for PINK Magazine. Follow her on Twitter.


Susan Colantuono said...

I bet if they had studied only those who stayed in the job market, the results wouldn't have been that different. AND we all know (and studies have verified) that many women leave corporations because the environments are toxic to them...if that's not active discrimination, what should it be called?

Michelle Girasole said...

Sigh - take it from this MBA. motherhood is one of the hardest jobs on the planet Too bad the "compensation package" for that job doesn't show up on a bar graph. I'd love to see the study as you mentioned - with the "out of the workforce" graduate data extrapolated.

CV Harquail said...

I agree with you...
When I look at the three sample 'explanations' of the gender gap in MBA earnings, I see discrimination.

Perhaps it's not "direct" or "unmediated" but when you look at them:
What causes women to cut back on work hours after becoming mothers?
What causes women to interrupt their paid-work careers?
What causes women to choose finance less often than men... (e.g., something about how careers in finance are structured) ..

All of these 'explanations' are caused by gender based inequalities in support for parents, in career structure that is appropriate to women who give birth, and career paths that permit participation in family life.

Each of these explanations is caused by what I consider to be direct discrimination against women... It is more subtle, and requires effort to recognize, but it is there .


Susan Colantuono said...

CV, you are right on the money. And this is the one area (out of the 3 most important) that is least addressed by companies.

They do a pretty good job at helping women develop, a decent job with equalizing benefits, but virtually nothing about addressing the hidden biases that men and women hold about themselves and each other.

Because I cut my teeth on corporate workshops that directly confronted those biases in the 70s, I feel the gap keenly.

Thanks for your thoughs!

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