Let’s face the facts, women have not had it easy when it comes to building our careers. We still earn less than men, we’re underrepresented in the C-suite, and we’re viewed as less competent leaders. It can be overwhelming and downright discouraging. What’s a professional woman to do?
The good news is we’re slowly leveling the playing field and graduate education is playing a HUGE role. More and more women are pursuing graduate degrees that ultimately increase their earnings and career advancement potential. Four in five women full-time MBA graduates agree that the skills they developed in business school helped advanced their career. We’re cluing into the fact that graduate degrees can mean greater professional success!
And the numbers back it up. It’s a great time to be a woman in graduate education. Did you know women represent 57.5% of all graduate students in the US? Or that we obtain three-quarters of all professional degrees and the majority of doctoral degrees? We’ve come a long way since the early 1900s when we obtained only a quarter of all master’s degrees. We’re excelling in higher education and making waves in our chosen industries.
But there are a few fields of studies where we’re lagging behind and still need to close the gender education gap. Women are underrepresented in MBA programs nationwide and that’s a problem. The gap in the boardroom is starting in business classrooms. We are only earning between 36-40% of all MBAs. This means we’re not accessing the same fast track men have used for decades to help them get to the top.
So for all the professional women out there thinking becoming industry leaders, consider putting an MBA or business master's program on your radar. Business school can build your career path no matter your industry. Here’s how:
You’ll build an awesome network of supporters: The professional network you build in business school will be yours for life. You’ll meet amazing students, faculty, and alumni across multiple sectors who are willing to help you advance your career. Business schools also acknowledge that it can be challenging to navigate a traditionally male field. There are resources, scholarships, and organizations designed to help support women and give them a leg up.
You’ll accelerate your career: Need some hard numbers backing up the notion that business school can help you get to the top? Nearly half of women business school graduates in 2015 were hired for mid-level positions and more than 1 in 5 were hired for senior level positions. On top of that, these women increased their pre-MBA salary by 30-40% and a have a lifetime earning potential of over $3 million.
You’ll be prepared for the status quo...: Your business school classroom will likely have a majority of male students and you’ll be networking and connecting with a majority male alumni base. You’ll also likely experience majority male leadership in the company you work for afterwards since women comprise only 23% of the C-Suite.
...And learn how to change it: Being a woman in a business school classroom doesn’t just help you. It helps change the status quo in the business world. You’ll be a part of the conversations, networks, and organizations that support and build careers. You’ll learn how to carve out a space in male corporate culture and start to change it to be more inclusive. The leadership potential of women will be reaffirmed, more women leaders will reach the top, and the gender pay gap will continue to close all thanks in part to women being in the business school classroom.
Whether you choose to pursue an MBA, another graduate program, or just continue to climb the ladder, we’re rooting for all the professional women out there building their careers. Remember that if you are considering taking the next step in your education, there are many scholarship options for women available for both business schools and other graduate programs. Let’s continue to close the gap!