Although US Labor statistics still report women’s wages lag behind their male counterparts at 81 cents on the dollar, Forté Foundation‘s Elissa Ellis Sangster believes the gap could well shrink as more women enter the upper echelons of business management upon earning an MBA degree.
In addition to opening up new career opportunities for women, who are more likely than men to switch careers, an MBA could boost a woman’s lifetime earning potential by $3 million, Forté Foundation has found.
While this is encouraging news, Sangster’s recent editorial in the Financial Times notes that the problem continues to be lower enrollment levels for women at the world’s elite business schools.
University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School sets the record among top programs with a 42 percent female Class of 2015, while 41 percent are women at Harvard Business School. At Stanford Graduate School of Business, women represent 36 percent of the entering class, and at Chicago Booth School of Business, women make up just 35 percent of the Class of 2015.
To encourage more women to pursue an MBA, Sangster believes the key, among other efforts, is early exposure to business careers, and getting more women to major in business at the undergraduate level.
Also, business needs to become more responsive to the needs of both women and men for flexibility that helps balance employee’s personal and professional lives.
“Statistic after statistic show that women are good for business, but business is lagging behind in returning the favour,” Sangster writes. “While not a magic bullet, an MBA can boost earning potential and open up a broad range of opportunities for women. We just need to make sure that they get the memo.”
You can read Sangster’s editorial in its entirety at the Financial Times.