North American MBA Job Scene Improves, Gender Gap Lessens

North American MBA Job Scene Improves, Gender Gap Lessens main image

MBA jobs and salary trends surveys show that the job market in North America is improving, especially with regard to equal salaries for men and women.

The results show that recruitment and salary trends for MBA graduates and alumni in North America have developed in recent months, with females across the region earning far closer salaries to their male counterparts than anywhere else in the world.

The annual GMAC Alumni Perspectives Survey 2012 is produced by the Graduate Management Admissions Council (GMAC), which owns and organizes the GMAT exam required to enter the majority of the world’s leading business schools. GMAC’s survey looks into the jobs and salaries achieved by MBA graduates and alumni, while the annual QS TopMBA.com Jobs and Salary Trends Report asks employers about their current and future plans with regard to both MBA jobs and salaries.

Both influential reports found results in most criteria agreed that, despite widely reported declining job opportunities in general, the North American MBA job market is on an upturn.

Gender pay parity for MBAs

According to GMAC’s survey, female MBA alumni from full-time programs drew starting salaries that averaged 85% of the earnings their male counterparts typically received, therefore earning 85 cents to every dollar that a man earns. It continues: “Although the earnings gap was even wider for part-time MBA alumni, 80%, women from executive MBA programs drew 92% of the salary of men graduating from these programs.”

These figures are all above the US average.

According to the US Census Bureau the earnings ratio in the US workforce currently stands at 77%, showing that the MBA, at least in this region, is on target for equalizing salary rates between the genders.

Among executive MBA candidates, that 92% figure represents one of the highest ratios globally.

Nunzio Quacquarelli, managing director of QS and author of the TopMBA.com Jobs and Salary Trends Report suggests that some of these differences are not simply caused by the so-called glass ceiling.

For Quacquarelli, “there is a reported inclination among female MBAs to look for jobs in industries that are less well-remunerated. These positions are perceived, often accurately, to offer a better work-life balance that appeals to a larger proportion of women. Men more commonly tend to apply for the big hitting finance or consulting positions that have higher salaries but a poorer work-life balance.”

MBA recruitment varies by industry

After a few years of downturn, the recruitment of MBAs in North America has begun to upswing, a trend that Quacquarelli greets with cautious optimism.

“Our statistics show that more MBAs found employment this year than in the year before, and we are confident that this will continue over the next few years.”

North America, similar to the rest of the world, has seen that recovery in financial services has been much slower than expected as financial firms climb out of recent economic difficulties. The re-uptake of MBA talent in the financial sector has therefore been slowest, with contract hire seeming to solve the talent gap in the short-term.

This is a fix that is often unsustainable over more than a couple of years, as contract salaries are usually higher. On the flip-side, companies retain greater flexibility with such positions filled, and long-term remuneration such as pensions and bonuses are easier to manage.

Quacquarelli adds, “Early in the 2009-2010 recruiting season there was some concern among MBA recruiters that the economic crisis had damaged the finance industry’s employment brand enough to negatively impact candidate yield on campus. However, indications are that the impact has been minimal as student interest in financial services remains strong.”

The pharmaceutical industry, a traditional destination for a significant number of MBAs, is seeming to recover in 2012 as well, with an increase in campus presence from smaller and less familiar firms.

Big players, such as Pfizer, increased their MBA hiring considerably in 2011 after several years of limited hiring.

“We’ve taken the approach that MBA recruitment is an important part of building a talent pipeline,” says Jodi Goldman, head of MBA recruitment at Pfizer. “Our sense is that companies will continue to recruit on campus so that when the economy improves and MBA recruitment increases once again, they don’t have to regain their footing.”

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