Women don’t earn as much as men. Every professional woman is well-aware of this fact, but few know some of the scary statistics behind it, such as:
- The wage gap has hardly budged in more than a decade, despite increasing wages for men and general opinions of increasing equality.
- The average full-time working woman loses over $460,000 due to the wage gap. This is accrued over 40 years of work.
- Men are promoted to management positions 30 percent more often than women. This prevents most women from ever reaching leadership positions; in fact, 73.1 percent of directorships are held by men, while women claim only 26.9 percent.
- The number of women in the workforce is decreasing. In 2000, 59.9 percent of women worked, but in 2015, only 56.7 percent held a job. Experts believe this is due to disheartening regressions in the treatment of women in the workplace.
While some women are giving up, committing themselves to lives of homemaking and childcare – which is by no means an ignoble choice – most women feel furious about the gender bias in the workplace and will do anything to see its end. So, what can you do to close the wage gap and put more women in positions of authority?
It’s simple: Earn an MBA.
What MBAs Offer
While women interested in leadership in other fields might pursue other master’s degrees – for example, those pursuing high-powered careers in education can benefit from online master’s in education programs – women in business need a specific type of training. MBAs cover most areas of business, to include hard skills like accounting, finance, and economics as well as softer skills like communication and marketing. Higher levels of business leadership must exercise a diverse range of skill, so the sundry subjects studied in MBA programs benefit women looking to become entrepreneurs and executives. This is especially useful for younger women with less work experience; an MBA can catapult young professionals into advanced positions early in their careers.
However, perhaps more important than the raw knowledge and skill is the environment of the MBA program. Like businesses, MBAs are largely male. Though many schools are working to entice more women into MBA programs, more than 60 percent of advanced business school students identify as male – which mimics the real world, in which 60 percent of firms have no women on their board or in their c-suites. Women who spend time earning an MBA will gain experience working alongside men, learning how to build similar strengths and exploit men’s weaknesses, so more women can get ahead. For example, women in MBA programs often adopt a masculine comfort with risk while retaining a traditional feminine risk aversion, which often results in a calculated risk, ideal for business success.
In addition to the exposure to masculine behavior – or perhaps because of it – women in MBA programs also become familiar with the competition. Higher levels of management are rife with cutthroat competitive spirit, and women must become accustomed to fighting for their positions, their decisions, their ideas and their people. MBAs are as competitive as the real world, forcing students to vie for coveted positions in journals and clubs or else struggle in class or during projects. Becoming accustomed to competing in this manner will prepare women for the uphill battle ahead.
Why That Matters
More women with MBAs will eventually result in more women in business leadership positions, which means more women guiding corporations. This matters for dozens of reasons
First, corporations do not cater to a single type of consumer; though white men assume an overwhelming amount of business authority, they make up a surprisingly small amount of consumer power. By integrating women into major decision-making positions, corporations gain greater insights into female consumers, allowing businesses to market and sell to wider audiences more effectively.
However, more importantly, marketing messages often guide culture, whether we like it or not. Women who gain MBAs and obtain corporate power can broadcast new perceptions of women and girls to the public, dramatically affecting how women lead their lives. Just within their own organizations, female leaders can ensure equal pay for equal work and offer enhanced benefits to women workers, such as paid parental leave, on-site daycare and more. Women leaders can also mentor younger women in business, helping them reach the top and grow women’s power around the world.
At the current rate, women won’t reach equality within the next century. Thus, women today need to do more to grab hold of authority, especially in the influential corporate sphere. Earning an MBA is a small and simple step toward improving women’s lives everywhere.