Is the Value of a Woman’s MBA lesser?

Most of us would agree that women, on an average earn as much, or even slightly higher salaries right out of a B-school in India. These statistics are consistent with studies done by researchers in the U.S. including the one that is referenced to, by Stephen J. Dubner and Steven D. Levitt, in their book “Superfreakonomics”. However, their study states that 16 years after doing an MBA, women’s salaries averaged up to 40% lower as compared to their male counterparts.

Now, they have an interesting and a seemingly paradoxical explanation for this. According to them, usually, the best and the brightest among women get an MBA so that they can earn higher wages. However, they also end up marrying the best and brightest men, who also earn high wages, which affords them the luxury of not having to work so much. In a way, this reflects the epicurean nature of human beings – wouldn’t most of us, given a chance, prefer to work less while enjoying the same quality of life?

The authors go on further to answer the question – does it mean, then, that the women’s investment of time and money in pursuing an MBA was poorly spent? Their answer: “Maybe Not. Perhaps these women would never have met such husbands had they never been to the B-school in the first place“. The authors report a positive correlation between the number of women leaving the workforce and the median salary of their husbands. While women with husbands earning below the median husbands’ income did not show a significant decrease in employment, a much higher proportion of women with higher-earning husbands ended their career.

Perhaps it is so that women get an MBA because they want to have children and work. An MBA would help women recover from the economic hit and their acquired skill set would help them having a higher leverage to negotiate a better childcare leave than they could have otherwise got.

A deeper analysis of the wage gap comes from the insights I gathered while on the job. A former boss had confessed that he would worry that women would insist on leaving the office on time, in general, and wouldn’t be available for working after office hours or on weekends, if the need so arose. Also, they would take time off to get married, have kids, and would have to be paid through their maternity leave. A female employee, many a time, is considered a liability because of these and other related reasons.

From a woman’s perspective effective negotiation is a necessary to convince the prospective employer of their worth and explain their plans to keep up with the work while managing their personal lives. While it may take a long time before we see statistics which declare that women with an MBA earn same as or even higher than men in executive level positions.

Till then, a higher awareness and sensitization towards this issue is necessary.

What do you think?

About the author:

Mitesh Gangar is a PGP participant at IIM Indore. Before doing his MBA, he worked on business development and account management in a startup which delivered enterprise mobility solutions. Prior to that, he worked in the R&D department of a specialty chemicals MNC. He is an avid reader. Some areas that interest him are: Digital Marketing, Corporate Strategy, Chemical Project Management and Employee Engagement.

Follow him at & on twitter – @mythace.

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