It shouldn’t be a surprise that additional education and training impacts a worker’s career prospects, and it shouldn’t be a surprise to women that the impact varies dramatically between the sexes. Research has found that earning an MBA does different things for a woman’s career than it does for a man’s. While it is important to see more women with MBAs in the workplace, it is also important to understand exactly what those MBAs are doing to help individual women and female workers in general.
Women comprise less than half of the labor force but make up more than 59 percent of workers making less than $8 per hour. Women continue to earn 77.5 cents for every dollar a man makes, and women earn less than men in 99 percent of all occupations. Though a woman is more likely to have a college degree than a man, she is also more likely to leave work due to overwhelming family and childcare responsibilities. With an MBA, a woman can work to abolish these statistics, taking a step closer to equality and independence for the following reasons.
In business, leaders must use math to ensure smooth and secure operations. Proper financial management requires the application of several mathematical disciplines, from algebra to statistics to calculus, which means those hoping to succeed in business must master math before seeking leadership positions. No one is born with an innate mathematical ability, but it seems that women suffer in business due to a false stereotype that girls can’t do math. Fortunately, a master’s in business administration highlights math education, ensuring women and men learn the same math skills necessary for leadership positions.
Similarly, women in business tend to struggle with the concepts of risk and imperfection. No matter how perfect a business plan is, it will not withstand the chaos of the real market. Business school helps women become accustomed to gambling ― and even losing. The goal in business is to avoid failing most of the time, not necessarily abolish any chance of not succeeding, and earning an MBA teaches women to complete the project even if it isn’t perfect yet.
One impossible-to-ignore reason women aren’t already everywhere in business is that leadership remains overpoweringly male. Though it may not be a conscious decision, men have the habit of hiring other men, especially for positions of authority and prestige. Worse still, men tend to hire fewer female employees in general. Women business owners employ 35 percent more workers than all Fortune 500 companies combined. Additionally, businesses controlled by men boast fewer female-friendly policies, such as flexible schedules, responsive health care plans, paid parental leave, and child care options.
Women with MBAs have the opportunity to end the gender disparity in the workplace and provide more benefits appropriate for female workers. As business leaders, women can place more women in any position and fight for programs that make workplace environments inviting to all.
Most women spend time with men throughout lives; fathers, brothers, male classmates, and male friends tend to be difficult to avoid. However, being around men is vastly different from working with men. In school, sports, and other team-building exercises, girls tend to gravitate toward girls and boys toward boys, so the genders remain somewhat segregated until adulthood.
Business remains a male-dominated field, and business school is equally charged with masculinity. Thus, women who wish to get ahead in business must be prepared to work alongside men, and earning an MBA allows women to practice cooperating with men. Later, in the C-suite, MBA-holding women will feel more comfortable with the masculine atmosphere and better equipped to succeed in spite of it.
Salary inequalities notwithstanding, women with MBAs are likely to earn dramatically more over their lifetimes than their non-credentialed female peers. Without an MBA, a woman is likely to enjoy a business career with a salary of roughly $50,000. Immediately post-MBA, women can double that salary, earning $100,000 in leadership positions, and after about 10 years in her career, that woman stands to earn upwards of $170,000. Admittedly, this isn’t quite as much as a similarly educated and experienced man, but any step a woman can take to earn more is a step in the right direction.