The MBA Mommy Track: The True Cost Of Having A Baby

busywomanThen, add to this the fact that when women get back into the workforce, MBA mothers are understandably more likely to take jobs that offer greater flexibility–a choice that also impacts both pay and and advancement. “What motivates mothers to choose their current job largely differs from what motivated them before they had children,” according to the study. “Post-birth, women are 20 to 26 percentage points more likely to be in a job chosen for family-related reasons than in the pre-birth base period, and 13 to 21 percentage points less likely to have chosen their job for career-related reasons.”

Part of the reason has to do with the often punishing hours MBAs are required to put into their jobs–especially at companies that employ the most MBAs. The average investment banker put in a whopping 74 hours per week, the average consultant 61 hours per week. Also reaching close to the 60 hours per week mark are those employed in venture capital and sales and trading.

Weekly work hours are high for all MBAs, and highest among the latest graduates. The study found that men in their first year out average 61 hours per week; women average 59 hours, despite being less likely to start in investment banking where hours are especially long.  Hours of work decline for male and female MBAs in the years following graduation, but far more so for women. Three years after receiving their MBA, women work around 56 hours per week while men work around 60 hours; nine years out, women work around 51 hours per week, while men work around 57 hours.

“The share of MBAs working in the high hours sectors declines rapidly in the years following graduation. The share working as consultants was 26 percent initially but 17 percent four years after graduation and 12 percent at seven years or more after. MBAs also shift out of investment banking with only 6 percent still working as investment bankers at seven or more years after graduation. Employment shares in investment management, company finance, and product management remain stable in the 15 years following graduation, and MBAs increasingly move into general management as their careers progress.”

“Although hours of work are long for most MBAs, a substantial share of MBA women work part time (defined as 30 to 40 hours or less per week),” the report found. “The incidence of part-time work among employed MBA women increases with years since graduation, from 5% during the first year to 22% at 10 to 16 years out. Whereas about 17% of MBA women are not working at 10 to 16 years out, another 18% are working part time.  Part-time work, therefore, is more prevalent than is non-employment for MBA women, even more than a decade after the MBA. But part-time positions are not common for those who remain in the corporate sector, especially in investment banking and consulting. One year after graduation, 4% of salaried women work part time, 7% by year 6, and 12% at 10 years or more post-MBA. The reason such a large share of MBA women 10 to 16 years out can work part time is because they are self-employed. In fact, of the 20% who are self employed at 10 to 16 years out, 57 percent work part time. When MBA women want to work part time, they disproportionately employ themselves.”

“The presence of children is the main contributor to the lesser job experience, greater career discontinuity, and shorter work hours for female MBAs,” according to the report. “Across the first 15 years following the MBA, women with children have about an eight month deficit in actual post-MBA experience compared with the average man, while woman without children have a 1.5 month deficit. Similarly, women with children typically work 24% fewer weekly hours than the average male; women without children work only 3.3% fewer hours.”

When the researchers looked at women without children, and with no career interruptions by 10 years out,  they found that the career paths of the women in the sample were similar to those of men. “For that comparison,” the reported, “the gender earning gap starts out slightly larger than for all women, but grows less rapidly. More than the entire increase in the gender pay gap by year ten can be accounted for by the greater importance of pre-MBA and MBA characteristics with years since MBA receipt.”

In short, having children is bad for your career. The economists also say that the gender gap in MBA pay can be explained by several other less obvious factors: differences in business school courses and grades as well as weekly hours worked.


Questions about this article? Email us or leave a comment below.