An MBA is often seen as the fastest route for women to get a seat on the corporate board, but salary data collected by the Financial Times reveal that the pay premium enjoyed by women with an MBA lags behind that of their male peers. Women who studied for a full-time MBA see their salaries rise an average 87 per cent in the four to five years between starting their programme and being back in the workplace for three years, but their male counterparts see salary rises of 96 per cent.
When they start their MBA at the age of 28, men already enjoy salaries of $70,000, 10 per cent higher than women ($64,000). Three years after graduation, that disparity has risen to 15 per cent, with men earning $137,000 and women $120,000.
The pay gap is linked in part to the industry sector in which graduates work. A higher percentage of women work in lower-paying sectors such as education and non-profits, while more men work in the high-paying banking and finance industries. But women are also slower to be promoted. Nearly half the women in the survey reported that they held professional level jobs, while men were more likely to be directors or senior executives.
However, discrepancies exist within the same industry, region and level of seniority. Men working in finance in both Europe and North America enjoy a 10 per cent pay premium compared to their female colleagues.
Illustration by Russell Birkett