Catalyst: Women MBAs start at lower level and stay there
Thursday, April 15, 2010
Posted by: Rob Wray
Women who have earned MBA degrees have
not fared as well in their careers as men have, according to "The Promise of
Future Leadership: A Research Program on Highly Talented Employees in the
Pipeline,” a new Catalyst study.
The report, drawn from responses of more
than 4,100 women and men who graduated from full-time MBA programs between 1996
and 2007 and who worked full time when surveyed in 2007 and 2008, found women
lag men in advancement and compensation from their very first professional jobs
-- and are less satisfied with their careers overall.
Among Catalyst’s findings: Women were
more likely to have left their first post-MBA job because of a difficult
manager. They also have paid a penalty for pursuing a nontraditional career
pathway, such as working in the nonprofit, government or education sectors;
being self-employed; or working part time before returning to work full time.
"I believe major interventions are required to build a robust
pipeline of women leaders,” Thomas
Falk, chairman and CEO of Kimberly-Clark Corp., told Catalyst. "Companies
should be developing more programs with stretch assignments for women. Why not
identify critical international roles with P&L responsibility and
prioritize women and minorities for these key development roles? This would
dramatically increase the pool of global leaders and more quickly build general
Men start higher – and stay there
Men were more likely to start their first
post-MBA job in higher positions than women, from first-level manager to
CEO/senior executive, Catalyst reported. These findings were not a result of
aspiration or parenthood: They held even when considering only men and women
who aspired to CEO/senior executive level and when considering only men and
women who did not have children.
Given this, it’s not surprising women’s
first post-MBA salary was lower than men’s. This held true even accounting for
the number of years prior experience, time since the MBA was earned, first
post-MBA job level, global region and industry. Indeed, on average, women are
being paid $4,600 less in their first job than men, the report revealed.
After starting a post-MBA career at a
lower position and salary, women don’t catch up, the study found. At the time
of the survey, men were more likely to be at a higher position than women were,
even after taking into account total experience, time since MBA, first post-MBA
job level, industry and global region of work. More than half of women were at
the entry or first-level manager level and were significantly more likely than
men to be at those ranks.
Salary didn’t keep pace for women either.
Regardless of differences in women’s and men’s starting salary, men experienced
higher salary growth post-MBA, Catalyst found. Men’s salary growth also outpaced
that of high-potential women without children.
What’s more, when both genders started at
the bottom levels of companies and firms, men significantly outpaced women in
moving up the career ladder -- even if they had the same number of years of
experience and received their MBA in
the same year. Only when both started their first post-MBA jobs at
mid-level or as a senior executive were there no significant differences
between the rate of men’s and women’s career advancement over time, according
to the report.
Post-MBA, men and women were equally like
to job hop -- but for different reasons, Catalyst found. The top reason for leaving the first
post-MBA job for women and men was faster career advancement. Both genders said
they left to make a career change at equal rates. However, more men than women said they left to
earn more money or receive better benefits. More women than men said they left
because of a difficult manager. Few gave childrearing as the reason they had
left, with women no more likely to report doing this.
"I find it revealing that women were more
likely to leave their first job because of a difficult manager,” Beth Horowitz,
former president and CEO of Amex Canada Inc., told Catalyst. "This tells us we
still aren’t getting through to the first-line managers. This likely also
affects the first promotion, who gets promoted and when. Companies need to
refocus on the point at which someone becomes a people leader for the first time. Have we
provided adequate training?”