Uh-oh: Do female MBAs get paid the same as male counterparts?

Answer: The pay gap among graduates of elite business schools is widening, according to new research from Bloomberg Businessweek’s biennial survey of MBA graduates.

Female grads of top MBA programs command only 93 percent of the starting pay of their male classmates. The gap gets bigger as years go by.


Here are some specific findings …

According to Businessweek:

  • On average, female grads from top MBA programs now earn 93¢ for every dollar paid their male classmates.
  • At about a third of the top 30 U.S. business schools, women earn less than men — sometimes far less. Female MBA graduates from the class of 2012 at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, for instance, earned 86 percent of male wages, while those at Stanford Graduate School of Business earned 79 percent.
  • “The gap numbers at the beginning are not very large and can be mostly accounted for by differences in grades, course selection, and the fields people are starting in.”
  • The pay gap is especially wide for women heading to finance jobs.  Women in those jobs earned 55¢ to 62¢ for every $1 men pulled in, the census data showed.
  • In 2010, research from Catalyst, a nonprofit group that focuses on expanding opportunities for women in business, found that women MBAs were being paid, on average, $4,600 less in their first job than men, a disparity that grows to $30,000 by mid-career.”

Some of the excuses offered up:

  • Even women placed in high-potential leadership development programs often miss out on the so-called hot jobs, or projects most critical to career advancement.
  • Fewer female MBA graduates are pursuing finance careers, where salaries are at the far end of the curve.  Specifically, the portion of women taking high-paying investment banking jobs has dropped.
  • Women MBAs are drawn increasingly to careers in technology, consumer products, consulting, and entrepreneurship.  In contrast, proportionately more men are drawn to high paying private equity and leveraged-buyout companies.
  • A larger proportion of women are going into fields such as retail and consumer products, industries that generally don’t offer the payouts seen in investment banking or private equity. “The inequity is not necessarily gender-specific, it is more industry-specific”
  • Demographic factors may also play a role.  Women who take the GMAT, she says, are on average a year younger than their male counterparts; they are more likely to leave business school at a younger age, with less work experience, and thus fetch lower salaries.

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2 Responses to “Uh-oh: Do female MBAs get paid the same as male counterparts?”

  1. Deepak Says:

    I think the biggest factor is expectations and female nature for not negotiating agressively. Recently two of my friends could have easily negotiated 10-15K more in there new job offers but they didn’t felt like doing it ( though with my coaching they were able to get up 12 K & 15 K on the first offer). I find females more agressive and diligent when it comes to looking for deals or bargains. I wish they can bring the same for salaries.

    Those who are agressive enough and have high expecations do way better than there male counterparts. For e.g. my former boss ( a female VP) has done exceptionally well.

  2. Elyse Says:


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