Send to Kindle

higher ed vs businessOh my! Such an onslaught of women in the traditionally male world of business. Will they take over? Men need help. Or so said a (male) friend recently after hearing a news report on the radio. The report reviewed the ongoing trend of women earning more college and graduate degrees. According to the most recent statistics from NCES, in 2013, women earned 57% of B.A.’s, 59.9% of M.A.’s and 51.6% of doctoral degrees. A recent edition of The Economist explored causes of “girls’ educational dominance.”

I agree that we need to understand why fewer men than women are entering and succeeding in higher education. Ideally the educated pipeline would mirror the overall population. If one group (e.g., men) is being disadvantaged by aspects of the way we educate, we should address it. But I am not worried about men. Or at least I’ll let others worry about them.

Yes, women are proportionately over-represented in the educated talent pipeline. Yet in business they are under-represented above the entry level, and under-compensated, compared to men. According to Catalyst, women represent 45% of the total workforce in the S&P 500. But, at every rung of the corporate ladder above entry level, the percentage decreases – 36.8% of middle management, 25.1% of executive officers, 19.2% of boards of directors and 4.6% of CEO’s.

My mission is to help correct this – so women are proportionately represented all the way to the top. We knew 40 years ago, when women first entered the business world in large numbers, that it would take time. With women earning more degrees in many countries for decades, notes the Economist piece, that excuse “is wearing thin.” The article cites Harvard economics professor Claudia Goldin, concluding,” [T]he ‘last chapter’ in the story of women’s rise—equal pay and access to the best jobs—will not come without big structural changes.”

In other words, my mission is not yet accomplished. Women are clearly being disadvantaged by aspects of the world of work, and we have not yet addressed it. Others can work on helping men match women in earning degrees. I am better qualified to keep pushing on my vision of gender diversity all the way to the top.

What do you make of the data on higher education — vs. the data on women in business leadership?