If you happen to be a) female and b) graduating in the near future, we have some bad news for you. According to survey results from Bloomberg Businessweek’s 2014 undergraduate business school rankings, 57% of men who majored in business and graduated this year got job offers by January; only 52% of their female counterparts could say the same.
“Just a 5% gap?” you might ask. “How is that a big deal?” The Businessweek article aptly points out that “the results are statistically significant, indicating that for the 25,000 students surveyed at 132 colleges, gender is a factor in predicting the likelihood of getting an early job offer.” We aren’t just talking about numbers. We’re discussing real people here.
Plus, in certain industries, the gap is much bigger than 5%—even when the industries in question attract far more women than men. Women are three times as likely to pursue nonprofit jobs as men, but among the male business majors who sought those jobs, 53% of them had offers by January, in contrast to 32% of female business majors. To be clear, that’s a 21% difference. In healthcare and government, fields which also draw in more women than men, the differences were 11% and 10%, respectively.
DOES MORE MEN EQUAL MORE PRESTIGE?
Jessica Kennedy, a professor at Vanderbilt University’s Owen Graduate School of Management, gave Businessweek a potential explanation for the gaps in industries favored by women. She suggested that people might want to hire more men to boost their industries’ prestige. Whether or not that’s actually true, the fact that it’s even a plausible explanation is kind of insane.
The gap also exists in traditionally male-dominated industries like investment banking. Percentage of men getting offers: 71%. Percentage of women getting offers: 59%.
Still, the survey results did have a few silver linings. Though two-thirds of business majors entering the tech world were men, women were more likely to get job offers. It’s possible that tech companies have responded to complaints about Silicon Valley’s brogramming culture, where high-level employees brag about things like landing jobs by sending company founders bikini shots of college girls. Plus, in banking, financial services (minus investment baking), consulting, and retail, the playing field for men and women looked roughly level.
TIPS FOR FEMALE GRADUATES
Kennedy gave female business majors some advice: make connections with influential people to offset the biases that might exist wherever you’re applying. The thing is, that advice applies to just about everyone. If you’ve managed to go through business school without hearing it, gender discrimination probably isn’t your only barrier to employment.
For female-specific career tips, Corporette is a great resource. Women going into tech or nonprofits might find it a bit too conservative, but it’s a helpful benchmark. A few example posts: The Hunt: Appropriate Bags for Summer Associates; Successfully Managing Men at Work; and Impostor Alert! How to Overcome Impostor Syndrome.
That last post is especially relevant, because many women have internalized the message that they don’t belong in the upper rungs of the workplace. If you think you might be conveying a lack of confidence during your interviews, start brainstorming ways to feel more secure. I’d say “fake it ’till you make it,” but it’s much better to become it.