Female MBAs underprivileged

Catalyst, an international nonprofit organization dedicated to gender equality in the workplace, recently released a study which reveals that female graduates with a masters of business administration (MBA) degree lag behind men in financial compensation, advancement and overall career satisfaction.

The study, entitled “The Promise of Future Leadership: A Research Program on Highly Talented Employees in the Pipeline”, was authored by Nancy M. Carter and Christine Silva, Catalyst’s director of research.

“From day one, women are lagging behind men. For years we’ve heard ‘just give it time,’ but as their careers progress, that gap just widens. Giving it time just allows the problem to get worse,” said Silva.

Kim Morouney, Laurier’s associate dean of business: academic programs, explained that the number of women enrolled in management-related programs decreases from the undergraduate to graduate level. “In the BBA program here at Laurier, about 50 per cent of the student body in any given year is female. In our MBA, that number drops to 30 or 35 per cent – which is considered good for an MBA program – and the number of women doing PhDs in business-related fields is even lower.”

Morouney believes that such numbers alongside the results of the study reveal that gender inequalities have not fully disappeared.

The study polled nearly 10,000 individuals with an MBA degree from 1996 to 2007.

Though sharing the same level of education, talent and career goals, men exceed women in the workforce from entry-level positions onwards. Financially, men earn on average $4,600 more than their female counterparts. Men are also twice as likely as women to reach senior level positions.

Women currently represent 40 per cent of the global workforce and are awarded a greater number of advanced professional degrees than men. Companies worldwide have also implemented leadership and mentoring programs, ensuring that women have equal opportunities.

Despite these achievements, Silva explains that women continue to be underutilized. “Don’t assume the playing field has been leveled. Pay attention to the need for programs and practices to ensure a level playing field.”

Silva explains that companies must continue to play a role in establishing gender equality.

“There’s a need for organizations to put programs in place to help level the playing field, or at the very least give them the opportunity to uncover where the problem lies…There needs to be processes in place to try to minimize unconscious biases.”

Morouney believes that companies are not taking advantage of women’s intellectual capital, which hurts their status within the global economy.

Laurier MBA student Deborah Carter believes women should play a stronger role in challenging gender inequalities. “The figures don’t come as a surprise, but what is a bit depressing to me is that women are not taking an active role in challenging this….I think women have to be much more proactive in demanding respect in the workplace and organizing themselves in terms of lobby groups, in business and in the government.”

Despite Catalyst’s findings, Morouney explains that Laurier’s MBA program is particularly good at recruiting women.

“Although the study is saying that female MBAs lag behind in some respects, I still think that having an MBA helps a woman a great deal in leveling out the playing field.”

Mary McCutcheon, Laurier MBA student, notes that upon graduation, several of her female colleagues will be entering their first job with substantial compensation.

“From what I know of people who are graduating this year, I know several females who have received job offers and who are being offered salaries that are higher than the standard amount typically offered to Laurier MBA graduates.”

McCutcheon, however, does state that Laurier’s MBA program is not free of gender inequality, noting that only one of the MBA’s eight core courses is taught by a woman.

“There are several female professors who are qualified to teach in the core, and by not submitting their names, they risk creating their own glass ceiling.”