MBA News: The Gender Wage Gap – How Do Schools Measure Up?

Bloomberg Businessweek posted some troubling findings this week, showing that the gap in pay between men and women at top business schools is widening. “On average, women now earn a nickel less than they used to in their first post-MBA jobs for every dollar earned by men,” the article reports. The data are based on a survey of more than 24,000 recent business school graduates as part of the publication’s biennial rankings, tracking inequality between post-graduation salaries of men and women at the leading MBA schools.

So, how do the top schools fare?  The following programs are ranked according to average female MBA pay as a percentage of male MBA pay for the Class of 2012:

1. Stanford GSB: 78.8% ($121,945)
2. UPenn Wharton: 85.7% ($115,713)
3. Yale: 88% ($98,240)
4. Northwestern Kellogg: 88.5% ($110,605)
5. UC Berkeley Haas: 88.6% ($108,455)
6. Harvard Business School: 89.5% ($115,651)
7. Duke Fuqua: 90.5% ($103,754)
8. MIT Sloan: 90.8% ($111,043)
9. Dartmouth Tuck: 91.5% ($112,853)
10. Columbia: 92.5% ($111,644)
11. UCLA Anderson: 95.4% ($106,000)
12. UVA Darden: 96.8% ($108,667)
13. NYU Stern: 97.7% ($107,594)
14. Michigan Ross: 99.1% ($110,302)
15. Chicago Booth: 99.3% ($118,529)

Stanford shows the most considerable difference in pay, with women receiving 78.82% of what men earned. Behind Stanford, female graduates of Wharton, Yale, Kellogg and Haas also reported significantly lower pay than the average a decade ago. Bloomberg Businessweek states that the gap, which was only 2% in 2002, has since fallen to an average of 93.2% for 2012, raising questions about the origin of pay disparity.

A partial reason for the difference may be explained by the decrease in number of MBAs of both genders—though especially women—pursuing careers in finance. Another reason may reflect the disparity in work experience, training, average age and salary between men and women upon entering business school. Bloomberg Businessweek also notes that, given the relatively fewer women enrolled in MBA programs in the first place, slight changes reflect more noticeably in the statistics.

Although Poets and Quants concludes that “the reason has less to do with discrimination than it does with career choices and previous work experience,” a Chicago Booth economics professor and co-author of a 2009 study of Chicago Booth graduates suggests that the more disturbing trend lies in the fact that, even if the pay gap at graduation is insignificant, the gap widens for women to about 50% in the ten years afterward. Of the schools surveyed by Bloomberg Businessweek, only one—the University of Texas Austin’s McCombs School of business—showed women making more than their male counterparts, with an average pay difference of approximately $2,000. One 2012 female McCombs graduate left her pre-MBA career in finance to pursue consulting, commenting that “the attitude and stereotype of banking is that it is still really male-dominated.” Since these MBA programs tend to inherently select for career-driven individuals, claims that the wage gap can be attributed to women having less ambition in the workplace seems to hold less sway here, as an article published in The Atlantic last week observes.

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