Getting an MBA Closes the Gender Pay Gap—for a Little While


The gender pay gap has long been a contentious issue in the modern workforce, highlighting disparities in earnings between men and women. Despite significant progress in women’s rights and opportunities, this gap persists across various industries and job roles. One potential solution that has garnered attention is pursuing a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree. Research suggests that obtaining an MBA can indeed lead to a temporary narrowing of the gender pay gap. However, it is essential to critically evaluate the reasons behind this phenomenon and the long-term implications for achieving gender equity in the corporate world.

Understanding the Gender Pay Gap:

Before delving into the effects of obtaining an MBA on the gender pay gap, it is crucial to understand the root causes of this disparity. The gender pay gap is primarily fueled by factors such as occupational segregation, discrimination, and societal norms. Women are often underrepresented in higher-paying fields and leadership positions, leading to an imbalance in earnings. Additionally, implicit biases and structural barriers can result in unequal pay for equal work.

The Promise of an MBA:

Pursuing an MBA has been hailed as a potential solution to bridge the gender pay gap. The rationale behind this assertion is that an MBA equips individuals with skills, knowledge, and networks that can propel their careers forward. The degree offers exposure to business fundamentals, leadership development, and strategic thinking—all qualities highly valued in the corporate world. With these skills, women may be better positioned to break through the glass ceiling and secure higher-paying roles traditionally dominated by men.

Temporary Narrowing of the Gap:

Research indicates that obtaining an MBA does indeed lead to a temporary narrowing of the gender pay gap. Studies have shown that women with MBAs tend to earn higher salaries than their female counterparts without the degree. This can be attributed to the fact that MBAs often lead to employment in lucrative industries such as finance, consulting, and technology. These fields tend to offer higher compensation and provide ample opportunities for career advancement.

Furthermore, the MBA experience itself can be transformative. It allows women to build a robust professional network, gain confidence in their abilities, and enhance their negotiation skills. These factors collectively contribute to women negotiating better compensation packages and positioning themselves for higher-earning roles.

Challenges in Sustaining the Progress:

While the initial boost in earnings for women with MBAs is promising, it’s essential to consider the long-term challenges that still hinder complete gender pay parity. One significant obstacle is the work-family balance dilemma that women often face. Despite career advancements, women continue to shoulder a disproportionate amount of caregiving responsibilities, leading to career interruptions and slower career progression.

Furthermore, while women with MBAs initially see improved earnings, the gap tends to widen again as they progress in their careers. This phenomenon can be attributed to factors such as a lack of mentorship opportunities, biased performance evaluations, and limited access to high-profile projects that could accelerate career growth. These challenges persist even for women who have acquired an MBA, revealing the systemic nature of the gender pay gap.

The Role of Company Policies:

Institutional changes are crucial for sustaining progress in closing the gender pay gap. Companies must implement policies that promote gender diversity and inclusion throughout all levels of the organization. This includes offering flexible work arrangements, providing mentorship and sponsorship programs, and conducting regular pay equity audits. Companies that prioritize these measures create an environment where women can thrive and continue to narrow the gender pay gap beyond the immediate post-MBA phase.


While obtaining an MBA does lead to a temporary narrowing of the gender pay gap, it’s crucial to view this as just one piece of the puzzle. The root causes of the gap are deeply entrenched in societal norms, biases, and systemic inequalities. Pursuing an MBA equips women with the skills and networks needed to break into higher-paying roles and industries. However, without sustained efforts to address underlying issues such as work-family balance, mentorship opportunities, and corporate policies, the progress made will be short-lived.

Closing the gender pay gap requires a multi-faceted approach that encompasses education, corporate policies, and societal change. An MBA can certainly empower women to make strides in their careers, but true equality demands a concerted effort to dismantle barriers at all levels of society. As we continue to work towards a more equitable future, recognizing the limitations of any single solution while advocating for comprehensive change will be key to achieving lasting gender pay parity.

Related Posts