Getting an MBA Won’t Save You from the Pay Gap if You’re a Woman or Minority

February 6, 2019, 5:09 PM UTC

At one time, higher education meant greater opportunities.

But according to a recent study from the Forté Foundation, the opportunities afforded to white men remain far greater than those for their female or minority counterparts.

The study found that even with an MBA, minorities earn less on average than white students. In the first job post-graduation, data shows that minorities earned $101,505 on average compared to $117,834 for white people, equivalent to a 16% pay gap. Nevertheless, the gap decreases from pre- to post-MBA, from 24% to 16%, and continues to shrink to a gap of about 12%.

Women similarly see a pay gap, but the discrepancy only gets worse with time. While the gap hovers around 3% pre-MBA, it widens to 10% when considering men and women’s first job post-MBA, and then continues to increase to 28%.

Read More: How Women Can Negotiate to Close the Gender Pay Gap

The hardest hit group? Minority women. The biggest pay gap is between white men and minority women in their current position, a difference of 52% or $76,589.

Nevertheless, it’s not all bad news. The data showed that overall, men and women of all races saw a salary increase after earning their MBA. For women, that bump is around 63%, while for men, it can be as much as 76%.

According to Forté’s CEO Elissa Sangster, some of the pay gap can be attributed to variation in job functions. But that doesn’t paint the full picture, she explained. “There is likely unconscious bias and other factors at play.”

“This is a wake-up call,” she added. “Companies need to take proactive steps to lessen the pay gap, or risk losing highly-skilled women employees.”

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