The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

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Gender inequality still an issue for business women

Women in the business world may still be facing gender inequality thought to be long since eradicated, a 2010 study found.

The survey found that women received an average of $4,600 less initially than their male colleagues. Women were also given fewer opportunities for promotion, and their salaries increased an average of 2 percent compared with men’s 21 percent in 2008.

Catalyst, a nonprofit aimed at increasing opportunities for women in business, conducted a survey of 4,000 MBAs who graduated between 1996 and 2007 from business schools in the U.S., Asia, Canada and Europe.

“From the first job on, men received higher compensation, were more highly placed in the organization and received more promotions of greater monetary value over time,” the study  revealed.

CSUN alumna Rosa Davies, who earned her degree in management in Spring 2011, said she was not surprised by the salary gap.

“People pay on experience and create salaries based on potential,” said Davies, who now works as a medical insurance agent. “There is a perception that men can handle stress better. When a woman tries to be seen on the same level, (management) tend to notice her and not what she is doing.”

Others suggest that perhaps the gender divide in business salaries can be looked at differently.

“Economists have found that if you compare people with the same educational background, there isn’t much gender-based discrimination,” said Dr. Shirley Svorny, economics professor. “When you see differences in wages, it’s because (researchers) have not compared apples to apples. If you compare women and men who have the same education and who have been working for the same amount of time, it is hard to find differences in salaries.”

The Catalyst study results also showed that the presence of a mentor in a recent graduate’s career helped significantly, finding that, “men who had a mentor received $9,260 more in their first post-MBA job than women with a mentor.”

Mentors, as defined by the study, were individuals whom students relied on for career advice and networking prior to their first post-graduate jobs. The study showed that, while men and women were equally likely to have a mentor, men with those relationships were more likely to earn a higher entry level position.

Though the study found that men and women were equally likely to have active mentoring relationships, men’s mentors tended to be more highly placed in the corporations.

“Research shows that when left to their own devices, individuals choose to associate with others like themselves,” the study noted. “Thus, men are more likely to affiliate with other men and women with other women. … Because in most organizations there are more men than women in senior executive positions, the pool of male mentors at the top is correspondingly larger.”

Davies, who did not have a mentor until she began her first job, said she could have benefited from a mentor.

“I considered my fellow classmates my mentors,” Davies said. “But they could not give me job references after graduation. Now my hiring manager is a mentor to me, but he and I are essentially on the same level in the company.”

Davies did not think that she could have benefited more from a female mentor, and the Catalyst study showed the same results.
While mentoring, and especially sponsorship, is helpful and even necessary, it isn’t enough, the study noted.

“It’s not a silver bullet that will close the gender gap—even women with highly placed mentors continued to fall further and further behind men over time,” the study noted.

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