Fig. 1

Businesswoman, interrupted

By Lydialyle Gibson

Graphic by Allen Carroll

fig1_health insurance

For female MBAs concerned about the gender gap, Chicago Booth economist Marianne Bertrand has good news and bad news. In a January working paper for the National Bureau of Economic Research, she followed 2,485 Chicago MBAs from 1990 to 2006, finding little evidence of direct sexism in male-female wage disparity. Nor does sexism seem to account, she argued, for the dearth of women in executive offices, who are absent especially at the highest levels of the corporate ladder.

The bad news? The gap may be hard to close. Male and female MBAs begin with relatively similar mean incomes: $125,000 for men, $105,882 for women. Pay diverges afterward, partly because more men have prior business training, but also because having kids means shorter hours and more career interruptions for women. Fifteen years out, fewer than half of female MBAs had both children and jobs.

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