We recently solicited your questions for Claudia Goldin and Lawrence Katz, whose research we cite in SuperFreakonomics regarding the male-female pay gap, particularly among female MBA’s.
Their answers will be coming soon. In the interim, consider this sensible objection from a reader named Lisa:
I am in the midst of enjoying your second book but have to write to you regarding your discussion of women MBA’s, pp. 44-46.
First of all, I’m not sure I appreciate the company we’re keeping in your book — prostitutes and school-teachers — under the ghettoization umbrella, but I suppose that debate is for another day.
I’m writing to disabuse you of your surprise about women MBA’s behavior:
“This is a strange twist. Many of the best and brightest women in the U.S. get an MBA so they can earn high wages, but they end up marrying the best and brightest men, who also earn high wages — which affords these women the luxury of not having to work so much. … Perhaps they never would have met such husbands if they hadn’t gone to business school.”
Would you cut us some slack? I think we are smarter than you give us credit for! Especially for two guys who are willing to go back 20-plus years to understand that the drop in crime in the 1990’s was due to the outcome of Roe v. Wade! You need a similarly long perspective on this issue because you are missing the boat.
Many of us — here’s the surprise — got our MBAs precisely because we wanted to have children and work, and we knew we wouldn’t be able to recover from the economic hit nearly as well unless we had an MBA to accelerate us back up the speed ramp when we re-entered the workforce post-child-raising! In fact, one could argue that having an MBA helps on the pregnancy end too, with presumably higher skills and therefore occasionally higher leverage to negotiate a better childcare leave than we might have otherwise.
I was raised in the 1970s, with the expectation from the feminist movement that I would work, in addition to the expectation from my mother’s own modeling that I would mother. Many of my well-educated friends with advanced degrees have stepped down to part-time work during their child-raising years. And it will be extremely interesting to see what we do as our kids get to college and out of the nest. I can only speak for myself: I dropped down to part-time when my oldest was born. I have further dropped back to a sole-practitioner consultancy for the flexibility. Some days it feels like I have only my little toenail in the workforce, but nonetheless it is there. And I feel more confident that I will be able to ramp back up in whatever capacity I choose once my kids have left — because I have the MBA qualification and resulting experience. The degree has enabled me to have credentials as a consultant and I will build on those as I re-enter the workforce.
I both wanted to get this off my chest as well as suggest further research on highly educated women and part-time work – a topic near and dear. Thanks for listening – and good luck with book 3!
I think you will agree that Lisa makes excellent points. She also reinforces my belief that there has never been a feedback machine anywhere near as efficient as the internet.