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WORLD BUSINESS

Beware the gender gap

Female MBAs earning less than men, study shows

By Peter Walker for CNN

story.women.jpg
Some more equal than others -- pay gap affects female MBAs

FACT BOX

FT's Executive MBA Rankings
1. Wharton, U.S.
2. Hong Kong UST, China
3. London Business School, UK
4. Instituto de Empresa, Spain
5. Fuqua, Duke, U.S.
6. Chicago GSB, U.S.
7. Columbia, U.S.
8. Kellogg, U.S.
9. Stern, NY, U.S.
10. Cass, City University, UK
Source: Financial Times 2006

FACT BOX

EMBA SNAPSHOT

Executives taking the top EMBA courses in the U.S., Europe and Asia have average salaries of around $130,000 to $200,000.

A typical EMBA student is likely to be aged in the early 30s, with 6-10 years of working experience.

A top EMBA course can cost $100,000. Customized courses start at a few thousand dollars.

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Schools

(CNN) -- Signing up for an MBA is seen as a sure-fire way to boost your salary. And so it is -- but especially if you're a man.

A survey by the London-based Association of MBAs shows that while newly-minted graduates do indeed boost their incomes, the minority of female students end up lagging well behind their males counterparts in the earnings stakes.

Even some years after graduating, women are still more like to be stuck in junior management rather than enjoying a seat on the board, according to the Association of MBAs, a professional organization for students and graduates which also acts as an accreditation body for business schools

However, the survey organizers stress that much of this is down to social factors rather than naked sexism.

"The traditional age people take an MBA is around 29 or 30, when some women are considering a career break for families," said Carl Tams, Knowledge Manager for the Association.

"Also, fewer women go into industries such as finance and consulting, which pay the highest salaries."

The study by the Association of MBAs, which accredits around 110 institutions in more than 40 countries, found a student's salary generally goes up by about 20% on graduation.

However, female earnings were well behind those of men in the survey of people who took MBAs between 1967 and 2005, the bulk of them graduating in recent years.

The current average basic salary for all the male MBAs was $120,130, against $97,700 for women -- almost 20% higher. When variable earnings like share options and bonuses were factored in the disparity reached nearly 25%.

Job divide

Job titles were also far from equally distributed, the study found.

While almost three-quarters of the respondents who said they were a company CEO or president -- roughly equal to the male/female divide on MBA courses -- there were equal numbers of women and men still stuck in junior management.

In a similar vein, men were much more likely to be working in corporate strategy, while women dominated in the less traditionally dynamic area of administration.

The survey asked women who took MBAs whether they felt the course took female-specific interests into account. The bulk said they did, but just over one third were less happy.

According to the Association of MBAs, one reasons woman might be less likely to sign up to executive education is because they see the sector as too male dominated, and thus fear they will get a poor return on their investment.

However, social and family issues were more significant, according to Tams.

The massive commitment to two years of full-time study was seen as one of the key reasons why the percentage of female MINA students had stayed around 25% for a decade or more, he said.

"This is something business schools are now responding to, with modular courses and distance learning," he said.

"If we you were to do the survey again in, say, five or ten years' time, I'm pretty certain there would be more women taking courses," he said.

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